Advent Day 20

READINGS

Isaiah 10:5-19 · 2 Pet. 2:17-22

Psalm 40

1 I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he inclined to me and heard my cry.
2 He drew me up from the desolate pit,
    out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
    making my steps secure.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
    a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
    and put their trust in the Lord.

4 Happy are those who make
    the Lord their trust,
who do not turn to the proud,
    to those who go astray after false gods.
5 You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
    your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
    none can compare with you.
Were I to proclaim and tell of them,
    they would be more than can be counted.

6 Sacrifice and offering you do not desire,
    but you have given me an open ear.
Burnt offering and sin offering
    you have not required.
7 Then I said, “Here I am;
    in the scroll of the book it is written of me.
8 I delight to do your will, O my God;
    your law is within my heart.”

9 I have told the glad news of deliverance
    in the great congregation;
see, I have not restrained my lips,
    as you know, O Lord.
10 I have not hidden your saving help within my heart,
    I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
    from the great congregation.

11 Do not, O Lord, withhold
    your mercy from me;
let your steadfast love and your faithfulness
    keep me safe forever.
12 For evils have encompassed me
    without number;
my iniquities have overtaken me,
    until I cannot see;
they are more than the hairs of my head,
    and my heart fails me.

13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me;
    O Lord, make haste to help me.
14 Let all those be put to shame and confusion
    who seek to snatch away my life;
let those be turned back and brought to dishonor
    who desire my hurt.
15 Let those be appalled because of their shame
    who say to me, “Aha, Aha!”

16 But may all who seek you
    rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation
    say continually, “Great is the Lord!”
17 As for me, I am poor and needy,
    but the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
    do not delay, O my God.

Matthew 11:2-15

2 When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” 4 Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. 6 And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”

7 As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? 8 What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. 9 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is the one about whom it is written,

‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
    who will prepare your way before you.’

11 Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John came; 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15 Let anyone with ears listen!

MEDITATION

Waiting is the worst! Yet, it is such a part of our daily lives. We wait for the day to end, for special occasions, for frustrating situations to change, etc. Waiting is also a major theme in the Advent season. We remember how the world waited for Christ to come (Israel waited hundreds of years), while we also actively wait for his return. In waiting, we sit in the tension of what is and what is to come. There is an anxiety to waiting. The image of a butterfly in a cocoon comes to mind. As the butterfly continues to grow and develop its wings, the cocoon gets tighter and tighter till it feels like there’s no possible room for movement. Patience is not a word that comes to mind when we think about waiting. Yet, in Psalm 40, David says he waited patiently for God. It is interesting to notice how David wrestles through this idea of waiting as the passage goes on. There’s a sort of back and forth, with David remembering God’s faithfulness, and then asking him to hurry up. There is a beauty in this movement, with David honestly expressing his desires to God and then remembering God’s ways. It seems impossible to wait patiently without an expectation that there will be fulfillment, that God will remain true to his word. Trust is what makes patient waiting possible. It may be messy. There may be a back and forth movement, but the patience comes in continuing to land in the belief that God is trustworthy.

In the second passage, we witness the fulfillment of this waiting when John asks Jesus if he is the Messiah. His straightforward words are almost humorous: Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else? As people who have experienced waiting, we can surely relate to John’s directness. This time, there was good news for John. Instead of directly answering the question, Jesus points to all of the evidence: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. This really is good news.

We are in good company as we wait for Christ’s return. In Advent, we can lean into and identify with those who, like John, waited for Christ to come. We can find comfort from those who have walked in the anxiety and unknown of long seasons of waiting. We can remember that we are not alone and that our God is trustworthy to fulfill his promises.

 

-Jen Manglos

 

PRAYER

Take some time to reflect on what you are currently waiting for in your own life. As you identify these areas, talk to God about how you feel about waiting right now. Let Psalm 40 be an encouragement for you to be honest with God, whether you feel peaceful or whether you feel anxious in your waiting. He receives you and your honest words with open arms.

Jon Ziegler