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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Luke 21:25–36

“There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on the earth distress among nations confused by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in a cloud’ with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (NRSV)

Devotion
Have a holly jolly apocalypse? Yikes. This is the season of comfort and joy, merry and bright, isn’t it? Instead we have fear and trembling as we start this season close to the end of the story.

Today we enter the season of Advent. The word advent means “coming.” Advent is the season in the church year when we prepare to receive the promise of Christmas. And here’s the promise of Christmas: God is going to come to earth through human hands and beating hearts to build the kingdom of God. God is going to bring heaven and earth just a bit closer, close enough that the crying will cease, suffering will end, peace and goodwill will reign. So close that you, I, this whole world will be at rest in God.

The promise of Christmas is that even though this world can feel full of pain and fear, terror and heartache, God’s presence remains with us through this all. This has been the hope of God’s people throughout the ages. God is our Emmanuel; God is with us. Raise your heads. Be alert.

Jesus’ words, as daring and as bold as they appear, were words of comfort to those who heard them: those frightening, bold, beautiful glimpses of God coming into the world; comfort and healing balm to those who had long been suffering, to those who cried out for justice and longed for the promises of God.

Yes, Advent is about looking around at the state of the world, at the wars and the violence, the heartache and the headaches, and longing for God to end it all and unveil that new creation. 

But Advent is also about choosing to see God’s near-presence—here, now. It’s about raising our heads, lifting our gaze, and looking around each day, each moment, and keeping alert to the unfolding presence of the holy.

Prayer
Almighty God, who promises that all manner of things will be well: give me strength to raise my head and keep alert, that I may see your unfolding presence and greet with joy and gladness the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer. Amen.

Written by Shawn Fiedler, Ministerial Associate for Worship



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