A reading from the Psalms.
Turn us again to yourself, O God of Heaven’s Armies. Make your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved.
Strengthen the man you love, the son of your choice. Then we will never abandon you again. Revive us so we can call on your name once more.
Turn us again to yourself, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies. Make your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved.
This is the Word of the Lord.
I love the imagery in the Scripture of God's face shining down on someone. The idea is that God gazes at a person as if that person is the only one on the planet. God gazing deeply at you. His eyes locked onto yours.
It is a way in which God marks us as His child. It's a mark of identity. Like a good father would do for his son or daughter. Look them eye-to-eye and say, “You are my child.”
There's something about the affirmation of a father to his children. It's an means whereby the son or daughter learn clearly and eternally who they are. Without a doubt, I am the son of…
It's also something missing in the world today. Throughout the world, we are faced with an epidemic of fatherlessness. We are finding that father are either entirely absent from the lives of their children or they are mentally absent–wrapping themselves up in technology or television or career or sports or pornography.
It's a situation that we as the church must address. We must begin to speak life into these circumstances. We need both natural fathers to step into the role they have been given by God, and spiritual fathers to help fill the gaps where the natural fathers won't take their role seriously.
Into a fatherless society, we, as Kingdom citizens, are called to speak hope. We are called to proclaim to the orphan that there is a Father who loves them. And, our proclamation is to be backed with action. Action that speaks value and identity to the orphan.
When John baptized Jesus, we find identity being spoken in that moment. There comes a voice from heaven that proclaims Jesus as a Son who is well-loved. In that moment, Jesus is affirmed in His sonship. A sonship that He clearly recognizes even as a young boy in the Temple. Yet, even though He knew He was a Son, the Father still felt it important to affirm Him again at His baptism. You are My Son.
As we travel from country to country, we find that there is great need for the affirmation of a father to their son or daughter. We see young people who have been wounded by the absence of their father–some of the fathers have been absent doing the work of the ministry even. These young people need us–all of us in the Kingdom–to step into a role of affirming and blessing and calling them out as sons and daughters who are well loved.
As we find ourselves reflecting on this Advent season, we will be faced with Joseph. A man who stepped into his calling as a father to one who wasn't his child. He nurtured. He trained. He discipled. We know little about Joseph after the birth of Christ. Yet, we know that he chose to accept this Son of God as his own son. The ultimate example of one fathering a child that wasn't his own.
Who will we father this Advent. What young person will we speak life and blessing and make our face shine upon?