Advent Day 16

THE READINGS

Isaiah 8:16-9:1 · Luke 22:39-53

Psalm 41

1 Happy are those who consider the poor;
    the Lord delivers them in the day of trouble.
2 The Lord protects them and keeps them alive;
    they are called happy in the land.
    You do not give them up to the will of their enemies.
3 The Lord sustains them on their sickbed;
    in their illness you heal all their infirmities.

4 As for me, I said, “O Lord, be gracious to me;
    heal me, for I have sinned against you.”
5 My enemies wonder in malice
    when I will die, and my name perish.
6 And when they come to see me, they utter empty words,
    while their hearts gather mischief;
    when they go out, they tell it abroad.
7 All who hate me whisper together about me;
    they imagine the worst for me.

8 They think that a deadly thing has fastened on me,
    that I will not rise again from where I lie.
9 Even my bosom friend in whom I trusted,
    who ate of my bread, has lifted the heel against me.
10 But you, O Lord, be gracious to me,
    and raise me up, that I may repay them.

11 By this I know that you are pleased with me;
    because my enemy has not triumphed over me.
12 But you have upheld me because of my integrity,
    and set me in your presence forever.

13 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting.
Amen and Amen.

2 Peter 1:1-11

Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have received a faith as precious as ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

2 May grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

3 His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature. 5 For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. 8 For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For anyone who lacks these things is short-sighted and blind, and is forgetful of the cleansing of past sins. 10 Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble. 11 For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.

MEDITATION

We are looking forward to Christmas Day, the Nativity of our Lord, the celebration of the Incarnation. Christmas is all about how God took on human flesh to redeem all humanity. God is by His very nature “not human.” Divine and human are radically different. So why would God become like us?

This was a great mystery that was pondered and debated during the first centuries of the Church. One of my favorite theologians of the early church was a bishop named Athanasius of Alexandria. Athanasius wrote a book called On the Incarnation of the Word, which contains the famous line, “God became man so that man could become god.” Essentially, he is saying that “God became like us so that we might become like God” or “God took our human nature so that we might be able to share in His nature.”

Peter speaks of us becoming “participants of the divine nature.” Unlike us, God is holy and has a divine nature. But God took on our nature (our human flesh) to raise humanity to Himself. He fills us with his Holy Spirit, uniting us to Himself and sanctifying us—making us like Him: holy. Christmas is not just some nice little story about a baby, his mother, and some farm animals. Christmas is about a God taking a radical step down towards us, uniting Himself with humanity, and raising us up to Himself through the Spirit. Christmas is about the union of divinity and humanity. After Christmas, humanity will never be the same.

- Jon Ziegler

PRAYER

O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Jon Ziegler