Advent Devotion – Wednesday December 5

December 5, 2018 ~ Carolyn Matthews

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Rev. Dr. H. James Hopkins, Sr. Pastor, Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church, Oakland, CA, former chair of the Board of Trustees of American Baptist Seminary of the West, ABSW ‘83

 

The prophets challenge us, even during Advent

Scripture

Luke 11:29-32

29 When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation; it asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. 30 For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be to this generation. 31 The queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here! 32 The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here! (New Revised Standard Version – NRSV)
Also see: Psalm 90; Isaiah 1:24–31

Devotional

I signed up to write today’s reflection before I read the biblical texts. Wow. They are daunting. The psalm reads, “For we are consumed by your anger; by your wrath we are overwhelmed.” In the name of God the prophet proclaims, “I will smelt away your dross as with lye and remove all your alloy.” In the gospel even Jesus’ words carry a tone of warning, “The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is here!”

Is there any good news in these challenging words? Perhaps. In The Promise of Light, his spiritual autobiography, the late Rod Romney (ABSW 1960) wrestles with this question. “I think the Bible is trying to teach us in purely allegorical terms that God is a consuming fire, but a fire that purifies rather than destroys…a fire that always takes place in us to purify the spirit implanted within. It is that fire that purges us of our sins and restores to us our original divine image.”

These texts tell us that God takes us seriously, holds us accountable and works to renew us from within. This message may sound a little heavy. Yet, I encourage us not to rush past these texts in search of something “more uplifting” for they do bear witness to the great truth that it God’s intent that God’s final word to us be “Yes.”

Prayer

O Mighty God, you know us from beginning to end; while still in our mothers’ womb. You know our struggles with the great gift of free will with which you have embed us. Walking in your way is not always easy for us. We humbly come before you asking your forgiveness. May the awareness of your presence overwhelm us that we might walk with you in these days of uncertainty. Amen.