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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Scripture Reading | Isaiah 61:1–4, 11

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor; and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion—to give them a garland instead of ashes; the oil of gladness instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory. They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.

. . . .

For the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations. (NRSV)

For me, this Isaiah passage has, in the past, reflected my general sense of Advent: one of joyful hope, expectations, and waiting for the future event of Jesus’ birth, a time of reflection and remembering our story. During Advent, however, I have often found myself impatient, not of rushing the season, but of waiting; an urgency to be bolder now in working toward the hope and expectations for God’s kingdom on earth in a way that stretches my gifts. I have felt a need to seek a balance between reflection on the wait and the urgency of action.

So I considered what I could do and where I could do it in this over-the-top, busy month of buying gifts, wrapping presents, writing cards, seeing friends, finishing projects, etc. Should I focus on volunteering or donating more? Those options didn’t seem like enough. No, I decided I would engage in action in my daily encounters: I would practice consistently and intentionally seeking to see differently wherever I am and to listen differently to whomever I’m with and in so doing to focus on valuing each interaction with love and respect and the visioning of God’s kingdom on earth. Perhaps I’ll have the opportunity to play a tiny, tiny role to “bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted.” But honestly, I think I’ll receive more than I give, and learn more than I impart.

Dear Lord, you know me better than I know myself. Help me be your servant in the coming of your kingdom. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

Written by Linda Crane, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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