Advent Day 7

Artwork by Peter Collins and Stephanie Hutin

Victory, Mixed Media

THE READINGS

1 Thess. 4:13-18 · Luke 21:5-19

Isaiah 4:2-6

2 In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel. 3 Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem. 4 The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit[a] of judgment and a spirit[b]of fire. 5 Then the Lord will create over all of Mount Zion and over those who assemble there a cloud of smoke by day and a glow of flaming fire by night; over everything the glory[c] will be a canopy. 6 It will be a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.

Psalm 20

May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
    may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
2 May he send you help from the sanctuary
    and grant you support from Zion.
3 May he remember all your sacrifices
    and accept your burnt offerings.[b]
4 May he give you the desire of your heart
    and make all your plans succeed.
5 May we shout for joy over your victory
    and lift up our banners in the name of our God.

May the Lord grant all your requests.

6 Now this I know:
    The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
    with the victorious power of his right hand.
7 Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
    but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
8 They are brought to their knees and fall,
    but we rise up and stand firm.
9 Lord, give victory to the king!
    Answer us when we call

MEDITATION

No one is comfortable with the idea of God’s judgment, especially when we worry or suspect that it will fall on us. But, in the world of today, we also long for the fullness of justice that our communities and institutions can’t fulfill. Today, let’s challenge ourselves to think of God’s judgment not as something frightening and vindictive; let us think of it as justice—the type of justice that our hearts yearn for when we look at the world, but that we are powerless to execute.

Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem. The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire.

A verse like this one can make us afraid: it can make us feel like we aren’t holy and not good enough. Guess what? We aren’t. But God follows it up with a loving promise: to cleanse us. That is the daily promise we have by living in Christ: to be cleansed. Think of a mother giving an infant a bath in the kitchen sink. That’s the type of cleansing God gives us as His Children. And yes, Scripture says that it is through a spirit of judgment and fire. God is deeply invested in wiping away our sin. He judges our sin with fire–but not us. He wipes sin from us every day, whether we are aware of it or not.

Now this I know:
    The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
    with the victorious power of his right hand.

 

There are a lot of times in life when we don’t feel victorious. But God is victorious in those times, whether we feel it or not. When we are blessed, God is victorious. When we feel downcast, discouraged, and deeply aware of our own shortcomings, God is actively working in our hearts and in those spaces at the same time. To be a child of God means to never be outside of His work towards justice and victory.

-Carla Neuss

PRAYER

Ask God to show you how He is answering your prayers in new and unexpected ways today—let him open your eyes to the work He is doing that the world can blind us to.

Jon Ziegler