[24DEC2011] Advent – Week 4: Readings, Reflection, & Prayer
(The Daily Office—Year 2; The Book of Common Prayer)
♦ Psalm 45, 46 ♦ 89:1-29
♦ Readings – Isaiah 59:15-21 ♦ Phil. 2:5-11
♦ Gospel -Matthew 1:18-25
Today remember that the Lord is coming, for tomorrow you shall see his glory.
Lift up your heads! Look, your redemption is near. Tomorrow salvation will be yours says the Lord God of hosts. Tomorrow the iniquity of the earth will be blotted out. And the Savior of the world will rule over us. Delay not, Lord Jesus, but come quickly. And by your coming strengthen those who trust in your mercy. You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever.
These “Mysteries” of Christ are not merely called “Mysteries” because they are too deep for us to understand and are therefore proposed to us to be contemplated with silent and adoring faith. They are not just something you think about and look at. The term mysterium in Saint Paul has a dynamic sense. It is the fulfillment of a divine plan, springing forth from the eternal wisdom of God, producing its effect in time and, by virtue of this effect, elevating men from the level of time to that of eternity, from the human level to the divine. -Thomas Merton
The fulfillment of a divine plan…from the eternal wisdom of God; this is Christmas. The most amazing thing to me about this mystery that I cannot fully comprehend is the desire of God to be in holy union with humanity. That’s the way it all began with the creation of mankind. The Holy Triune Eternal of Days wanted to share the incredible joy that is Divine Communal Love, and so They made man. How ever many thousands of years that passed after Adam’s rebellion, the redemptive promise was realized in the birth of the Christ child, Jesus… Emmanuel; God with us. Thirty some odd years later the Christ child turned man would be put to death on a Roman cross and the redemption work of God would come to a climax when after three days the murdered Messiah would arise and emerge from the tomb that could not contain His Presence or Glory. In a short span of fifty days the mystery of divine union with Holy God would be experienced in a room of five hundred people and then witnessed by more than three thousand that same day. Mystery indeed…magnificent and marvelous!
Fast forward two thousand years and we stand on the eve of the day we celebrate the life of this mysterious Savior. Tonight while we attended the candlelight service at our church all I could think about was that the Savior we celebrate on this evening and tomorrow dwells in me…alive… in my heart. God lives in me. And, not just me, but if you are a believer who has received the gift of God’s Holy Spirit baptism, you too have God living in you. Marvelous, magnificent, mysterious God dwelling in man; divine union—Holy Communion. Amazing grace.
Christian humanism is not based on the presumption that our humanity is self-justifying. Rather Christians are humanists because God showed up in Mary’s belly. We are not an evolutionary accident. We are not bubbles on the foam that coats a stormy sea. We are God’s chosen people. We have been given good work to do in a time when many no longer think there is good work. What an extraordinary claim. What extraordinary good news. Praise God, and with gratitude enjoy the glory of his creation. Together, at this time called Advent let us wait in joyful expectation for the surprising coming of the Lord. –Stanley Hauerwas
As we prepared to worship in song and prayer tonight, I quieted my heart and stilled my mind surrender again to the Eternal Ancient of Days who is Lord over my life. I dedicated my attention, my conscious and subconscious self entirely to my God. I spoke silently; “O God, my Lord and my King, may your will be my will and may your desire be mine too. I pray my reflection would be yours, the life and legacy that is mine would be visibly Christ-like to all who see me. I desire to follow the Holy Guide, share the peace that comes from You, my Comforter, and become a blessing to others as You are to me.
The wonder of this mystery is that it isn’t only for a single night or day, but the reality of God’s gift is every day, all day, every minute…always with us and never entirely silent, until He comes again. Yep, this is Christmas. Emanuel. God is with us…with me. Amen.
For so long you have promised
forgiveness, peace, salvation.
Now in my heart, I am filled with joy
because of your coming.
Thank you for your promises
and for the way I can trust in you.
I feel a new freedom in my life
and a courage I have not known before.
I know you came to save me and bring new life
and I am so grateful to you.
Let me show my thankfulness
with my life.
You have brought me through the darkness
and into the light of your saving grace.
Guide my feet on the way of peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel!