Thursday, December 19, 2019

Advent 13

Psalm 77
Ezekiel 34:11-16

     Just as David longs for a sense of God's presence, so too do we.  Oftentimes we fail to realize His presence in our midst.  We walk along the street oblivious to what is happening around us until we run smack dab into a friend who has been waving and calling our name as we approached.  We apologize by saying we were lost in thought or some other excuse.

     God is like that, calling our name, waving hands and arms to attract our attention, even as we focus on praying, and doing the right thing, lost in worry that He is not present, perhaps that He doesn't hear us.  He may be warning us to some danger, or bidding us to turn aside, yet we go on with our prayers and our work wondering why he doesn't act on our behalf.  Instead of stopping and listening and looking, we carry on with the same repetitious activity.  It may not be until we stumble and fall into His arms in some tragedy of our own making that we recognize Him.  It may not be until a quirk of circumstance, which could easily have been avoided, befalls us, that we realize how far we have gone astray.  And even then we may not recognize it is His own arms into which we have fallen.

     Ezekiel talks of a day when we will be shepherded on the mountain heights of Israel, when He has gathered in His own people, to be their shepherd.  The birth of Christ is a sign of God's gracious goodness, an indication of the depth of His love, and attempt to get our attention.  The Day is coming when we shall be gathered from the countries to which we have been scattered.  We will be fed on good pasture.  We shall lie down in good grazing land.  He will bind up those of us who are injured and He will strengthen the weak.

     We are reminded yet again that the world's idea of justice is not that of the Lord.  That the day is coming when justice, true justice, shall rain down.

     So if we find ourselves wandering this Advent/Christmas season, looking for Jesus, wondering what all these lights and decorations, all the busyness and financial expenditures have to do with the true heart of Christmas, we need to stop!  We need to be still and rest in the confidence that even now He is near, whether or not we recognize Him, AND that the Day is coming when we shall be drawn into His presence and His care in an even more concrete way.

Psalm 46 reminds us:

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    He lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations He has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields with fire.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”
 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

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Questions: 1. What does my level of theological knowledge say about my priorities in my own faith development? By God's grace...