Advent Day 12

THE READINGS

Isaiah 7:1-9 · Luke 22:1-13

Psalm 37

1 Do not fret because of the wicked;
    do not be envious of wrongdoers,
2 for they will soon fade like the grass,
    and wither like the green herb.

3 Trust in the Lord, and do good;
    so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.
4 Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him, and he will act.
6 He will make your vindication shine like the light,
    and the justice of your cause like the noonday.

7 Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him;
    do not fret over those who prosper in their way,
    over those who carry out evil devices.

8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath.
    Do not fret—it leads only to evil.
9 For the wicked shall be cut off,
    but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.

10 Yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more;
    though you look diligently for their place, they will not be there.
11 But the meek shall inherit the land,
    and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.

12 The wicked plot against the righteous,
    and gnash their teeth at them;
13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
    for he sees that their day is coming.

14 The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows
    to bring down the poor and needy,
    to kill those who walk uprightly;
15 their sword shall enter their own heart,
    and their bows shall be broken.

16 Better is a little that the righteous person has
    than the abundance of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
    but the Lord upholds the righteous.

18 The Lord knows the days of the blameless,
    and their heritage will abide forever;

2 Thessalonians 2:1-12  

As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. 4 He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God. 5 Do you not remember that I told you these things when I was still with you? 6 And you know what is now restraining him, so that he may be revealed when his time comes. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but only until the one who now restrains it is removed. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan, who uses all power, signs, lying wonders, 10 and every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false, 12 so that all who have not believed the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned.

MEDITATION

Don’t Fret!

Today’s meditation is a joint effort by Mustafa Zeno and Catherine Lawrence. It reads like a conversation.

Mustafa:

Fretting! If I had to choose one word to essentialize our world today it would be fretting; From commonly responding to “how are you?” with “crazy busy,” to doomsday prepping, to the xenophobia and racism highlighted so well in the current socio-political climate in the USA and internationally.

In this Psalm passage, verse 8 says: “ do not fret–it leads only to evil.” and when we look back in history to all the different genocides, pogroms, holocausts… they usually start with this ‘fretting,’ often based in economic insecurity. People worrying about the livelihood of their families, something that is so human and so noble even, can in fact be the source of much evil. Of course, it’s much easier to point fingers in times like this, but really how guilty are we all of letting these primal anxieties get the best of us every single day?

Catherine:

This fretting thing really spoke to me, too. I have so many anxieties about so many things, big and small. When I fret (have anxiety, worry, fear), I tend to avoid life-giving and loving things: helping those in need, being open to new situations, meeting new people… the list goes on and on. What does it leave me with? Evils: avoiding others, giving up hope, doubting myself….

So how do we get out of these evil patterns of protecting our own, which in turn actually harms ourselves and the world around us? There are so many promises in this passage of what

God will do if we follow Him. I don’t know about you, but sometimes it’s really hard to “do good” and “trust”! These patterns of thought and behavior go deep.

Mustafa:

What if trusting in God is a skill that needs practice? Everyday I realize how my fears, although rooted in real experiences, are not truly grounded in my life here and now.

Nevertheless, these fears feel real and it’s important to hold ourselves (and each other) in compassion for them. After that though, practicing putting faith in God and doing things regardless could really help in reprogramming our minds and bodies to respond more accurately to reality. Doing the work, the prayer, and practicing leaving the rest up to God; honestly, is anything beyond that even in our hands?

Catherine:

I like that a lot: Practice, pray, and leave the rest up to God. It’s true, everything else is out of our hands. And we have so many promises in this text alone to look forward to. In this season of waiting and preparation, it’s a good reminder to look at these promises not only for our lives here and now, but for our future… when Christ returns.

PRAYER

God, I pray that you give us continued reminders of your promises, and help us to always keep our trust in you. Amen.

Jon Ziegler