As we have done in years past, we are again blogging our way through the Advent Lectionary readings. We love this season as it allows us to take time to slow ourselves down and walk between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is time for us to live in full knowledge of the “Now” of the Kingdom without rushing the “Not Yet” of the Kingdom. Thank you for being a part of this journey with us. Our prayer is that these posts will serve as devotional meditations to focus your heart and mind on the imminent coming of our King!
A reading from the Psalms.
Happy is the one whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them. He remains faithful forever, executing justice for the exploited and giving food to the hungry.
The LORD frees prisoners.
The LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD raises up those who are oppressed.
The LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD protects foreigners and helps the fatherless and the widow, but He frustrates the ways of the wicked.
The LORD reigns forever; Zion, your God reigns for all generations. Hallelujah!
—Psalm 146:5-10 (HCSB)
The Word of God for the people of God.
Again, in today’s reading, we’re given a glimpse of the Kingdom. It shows us what it looks like when the King comes. It shows us shalom—nothing missing, nothing broken.
As I read the passages for yesterday in the prayer book that I use (Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, and Enuma Okoro), I was reminded of Jesus’ response to the disciples of John The Baptist in Matthew 11. John’s disciples come and ask Jesus if He is the One for whom they had been waiting. Is He the King? Is He the Messiah?
Jesus replies, “Go back and tell John what’s going on: the blind see, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the wretched of the earth learn that God is on their side. Is this what you were expecting? Then count yourselves most blessed!” (Matthew 11:4-6, The Message)
The beauty of the Kingdom is that when the King comes things change.
As we look around at the situations in the world where brokenness and pain seem to reign, we pray “Your Kingdom Come.” Because, we have come to learn that the only thing that can set things right is the Kingdom coming. The only thing that can set the prisoners free, make the blind see, lift up the heads of the oppressed, protect the foreigner, orphan and widows is the Kingdom of God.
That is the message of Advent. Advent is a time where we proclaim to the world that a new King is coming—and with Him comes a new Kingdom!
As we walk to the manger, let us walk with our heads held high in hope. We walk in confidence and joy in the goodness of God. God, who is Creator, has not abandoned His creation. Instead, He has invaded it and in His invasion He re-creates it.
He brings newness.
He brings wholeness.
He fixes what is broken.
He finds what is missing.
And, as His representatives—Ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:16-21)—we are called to bring that Kingdom into every place we go. We are called to speak hope and joy and life to every person with whom we have contact. We are called to live differently.
As we walk the remainder of this Advent journey, let us walk with the knowledge that the gifts of Advent—Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love—are not contingent upon external circumstances. Rather, they stand in opposition to external circumstances. Even in the midst of the most messy of conditions, the Kingdom can still come. It can—and does—still emerge.
Our lives—when lived as citizens of this Kingdom—are to be bringers of the Kingdom. Our Psalm today gives us specific ways in which we can introduce the Kingdom to people.
Free the prisoners.
Open the eyes of the blind.
Raise the heads of the oppressed.
Love the righteous.
Protect the foreigners.
Be fathers (and mothers) to the orphans.
Care for the widows.
Proclaim to the world that a new King is coming—and has already come!
|Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary RadicalsBy Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove & Enuma Okoro / ZondervanA tapestry of prayer, songs, and liturgy to help today’s diverse Christians pray and worship together! This rich collection makes liturgy “dance”—taking the best of the old and reinvigorating it with fresh energy for contemporary renewal. The music section features over 50 songs from various traditions including African spirituals, traditional hymns, and Taize chants. 512 pages, hardcover from Zondervan.|