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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Isaiah 11:1–9

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins. The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (NRSV)

“Celebrate Christmas Better!” That was the note to my “future self” squarely set out on my calendar for December 1, 2017. I wrote the reminder sometime after Christmas last year. I remember feeling that Advent and Christmas had passed by without much reflection or deep engagement on my part. I vowed to change that this year. It was a clever tactic, but while the reminder gave me a head start, it also underscored my emptiness. Simply put, there were no follow-on instructions. In this sense, I had indebted my current self with the elusive task of finding a more spirit-filled meaning to the season. So here I am facing the same dilemma: how do I celebrate Christmas better?

How fitting that today’s scripture is restorative in nature and sets the stage for us with some tools and a vision for a world filled with the spirit. I’m particularly drawn to the verses that set forth a worldly coexistence filled “with the knowledge of the Lord.”

Given the often-polarized nature of today’s politics and the discord that can easily creep into all aspects of life, a vision of peace and harmony where all can thrive is one I’d rather embrace. Using the righteousness bestowed by the Lord coupled with our faithfulness (and a healthy delight in the fear of the Lord!), we are provided guidance to live into the promise of a world filled with grace.

This is where I find a better way to celebrate Christmas. Just as Christ was born to fulfill God’s promise to us, we are also born again to live into this vision of peace and harmony. By acting out our faithfulness, we are restored and become one with the spirit. We become an active fulfiller of God’s promise rather than passively waiting for something to happen to us. So I will celebrate Christmas this year by not only welcoming the Christ child into the world but by living into this promise daily.

Heavenly Father, I will celebrate Christmas this year with a restored faithfulness and rededicate myself to act with a clearer understanding of your righteousness so that I become an instrument of your vison of peace and harmony for all. Amen.

Written by Ken Walker, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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