Advent Devotion – Thursday December 6
Dr. Jennifer W Davidson, Associate Professor of Theology and Worship, American Baptist Seminary of the West, Berkeley, CA
How we long for Jesus’ coming
5 Then I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be swift to bear witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the alien, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.
6 For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, have not perished. 7 Ever since the days of your ancestors you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, “How shall we return?”
8 Will anyone rob God? Yet you are robbing me! But you say, “How are we robbing you?” In your tithes and offerings! 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me—the whole nation of you! 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing. 11 I will rebuke the locust[a] for you, so that it will not destroy the produce of your soil; and your vine in the field shall not be barren, says the Lord of hosts. 12 Then all nations will count you happy, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts. (New Revised Standard Version – NRSV)
See also Luke 1:68–79
Advent is the season when we feel how desperately we long for Jesus’ coming into our world today. It is a time of searing honesty, of vehement lament, of deep cries, and hopeful longing. In Advent, we tell God that we yearn for God to break into our world now, because we keenly need the healing presence of Christ.
The scripture from Malachi is gritty but profoundly hopeful. Malachi speaks of God’s judgment and reminds us that God sees what is happening in this world and in this country. The season of Advent says God’s coming is sure. This good news will fill some with hope and others with dread.
Zechariah’s tongue-tied silence is broken by the song he sings at his son’s naming ceremony. An infant now, John will become a fiery, locust-eating, wilderness-dwelling preacher calling people to repentance. We hear, though, in Zechariah’s song a countermelody that is woven into John’s name and existence: “By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” God’s judgment is also God’s tender mercy. This is the promise; this is our hope.
God, you fill us with a vision of what you most desire for your beloved world. So fill our hearts with longing for your presence that the heavens themselves open. May your reign of love and tender mercy break through into our most desolate places. We love you. We need you. Guide our feet into the way of peace. Amen.