*Advent is a wonderful time for new readers to join us. At this time of year, we are covering familiar biblical content and people are open to spiritual pursuits. Also at this time, people desperately need the balance of spiritual practice that The Park Forum provides. In this season, consider sharing our devotionals with others and inviting them to join our community. Share this post with others to help them subscribe.
Scripture Focus: Revelation 8.4-5
The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.
Reflection: Joy and Justice :: Joy of Advent
By John Tillman
Revelation promises an Advent of justice. A child of mercy and grace has come. That same child will come again as a king, bringing justice and righteousness to the earth. Our tears and prayers now are more than simply sighed over by God. God is not a condescending comforter, who pats us on the back, saying, “there, there,” while doing nothing about those who perpetrate violence and harm. Our prayers and cries for justice will be a part of his burning censer of righteous judgment that will be poured out.
The justice we long for will come yet, as we wait, we represent the justice and righteousness of Christ on Earth.
Some eschatology, or “theology of last things,” forsakes our responsibility to work and be concerned for the Earth of today. This line of thought claims that there is no need to uphold environmental concerns and care for the Earth, for God will make a new one, and there is no need to work for justice on the Earth, for final justice at the end of time is all that matters and is up to God.
This kind of separation of the spiritual and the physical is not a Christian or a biblical idea. It was the Greeks who believed that matter was evil and spirit was pure. Jews believed in the unity of soul and body. The first-century Christian sexual ethic was based on spirit-body unity and the idea that what we do with our bodies matters. Greeks felt any sexual acts were permissible because the body was base matter and did not affect the spirit. The Gnostic false teachers that Paul and John spent so much time refuting were one iteration of how these Greek ideas crept into Christianity over time.
This separation of body and spirit shows up in the theology of slaveholders who believed that they were doing God’s work to bring their slaves to spiritual freedom by introducing Christianity, even while denying slaves any other freedoms.
We are not being unfaithful to the gospel when we work for justice. We are embodying the gospel when we live it out to improve the lives of our fellow children of God and we are being ambassadors of the King of Kings when we speak uncomfortable truths to the kings of the earth.
In Advent, we need not be passive as we wait for the light of justice. Just because the sunrise is coming, does not mean we should not light candles against the dark.
Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Because you have kept my commandment to persevere, I will keep you safe in the time of trial which is coming for the whole world, to put the people of the world to the test. I am coming soon: hold firmly to what you already have, and let no one take your victor’s crown away from you. Anyone who proves victorious I will make into a pillar in the sanctuary of my God, and it will stay there forever; I will inscribe on it the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem which is coming down from my God in Heaven, and my own new name as well. Let anyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. — Revelation 3.10-13
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.
2 Chronicles 19-20 (Listen -8:09)
Revelation 8 (Listen -2:15)
Thank You, Donors!
Thanks to our donors, in 2019 we will publish approximately 100,000 words of free, and ad-free, devotional content. Without donor support, continuing this ministry would be impossible. As the end of the year approaches, consider whether the Holy Spirit might be prompting you to help support our 2020 content with an end-of-year gift or by becoming a monthly donor. Follow this link to our giving page.
Read more about Blossoming of Joy in Adversity :: Joy of Advent
“Are you rejoicing in the fact that you are suffering with Christ because of this church?” — Li Yingqiang, Elder of Early Rain Covenant Church
Read more about The Value of Words
Our purpose at The Park Forum is to produce words that may bring godly grief over brokenness, but produce joy and love in repentance.