Unexpectedly Tangible Presence — Hope of Advent

Scripture Focus: 2 Chronicles 5.13
13 The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang: 

“He is good; 
his love endures forever.” 

Then the temple of the Lord was filled with the cloud, 14 and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God.

Luke 2.6-11
6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. 
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

Reflection: Unexpectedly Tangible Presence — Hope of Advent
By John Tillman

David remembered God’s faithfulness. God had inspired him as he slept under the stars as a shepherd, protected him from wicked leaders as a fugitive in his own country, and gone with him into foreign lands as an exile. Now David’s throne was in a palace, and God’s throne, the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant, was in a centuries-old tent. David thought God’s presence should be housed more grandly. Solomon made sure of it, following David’s preparations. 

When the days were completed for the Ark to be delivered, Solomon brought forth the presence of the Lord to take up residence in the Temple.

Every priest, no matter their job description, was consecrated. Countless sacrifices were made in worship. The entire nation gathered. Under the spreading wings of cherubim, the Ark was set in place. Choirs of singers and bands of musicians made music of praise and thanks. 

Then, the unexpectedly tangible presence of God, a cloud that filled the Temple, prevented the performance of the priests’ duties. God took over the space as his own. Then, Solomon prayed a priestly prayer over the Temple and kingdom.

When the days were completed for Jesus to be delivered, different preparations had been made. No consecrated priests were there to minister, but Mary, full of the Holy Spirit, prophesied and gave him life. No choir of Levites in fine linen celebrated him, but shepherds, sleeping on the ground, were inspired to seek him by music from the heavens. No dignitaries from his nation visited or brought sacrifices, but foreigners came from afar to worship, bringing sacrificial gifts. No king prayed to or worshiped him, but Herod’s killers pursued him, and Jesus became a fugitive and an exile, leaving behind comfort and familiarity.

In order for us to be with him in a house grander than David could imagine or Solomon could build, God became unexpectedly tangible. Rather than a non-corporeal cloud, he became a poor, unhoused, itinerant carpenter and died as a slandered, tortured rebel.

Jesus, with no place to lay his head, is the same God who inspired David’s songs in the night. Jesus, whose parents could not afford to sacrifice a lamb, is the Lamb of God. Jesus, hung on a cross with a crown of thorns, is the same God enthroned on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant.

Come, thou unexpectedly tangible Jesus.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Show us the light of your countenance, O God, and come to us. — Psalm 67.1

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Chronicles 5-6.11 (Listen 9:47)
Psalms 110-111 (Listen 1:57)

Read more about O Come, O Come, Emmanuel — Carols of Advent Hope
Our true hope…Messiah King soothes doubts, heals afflictions, wipes sorrowful tears, and rescues us from captivity to sin.

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Who Are You Waiting For? :: Hope of Advent

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Scripture Focus: 1 John 4.16-17, 20
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus…Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

Reflection: Who Are You Waiting For?
By John Tillman

Back in the days when one could go to the gate and meet friends as they came off of the plane, I was a part of a group that played a joke on a friend of ours returning on a flight. We gathered with a simple sign to hold as we awaited our friend and arrived at the gate early enough that we were the first ones waiting.

Then, as now, people coming off of a plane didn’t normally hesitate—they would hustle off to baggage claim or the exits. But on that day as people began to stream off of the plane, they saw our sign. A few simply chuckled and moved on, but some, due to curiosity, seemed to find all manner of reasons to stand around the gate chatting. They were interested to see who was getting off of the plane.

The crowd grew as our friend was one of the last people to exit the plane. As the tension mounted, we almost abandoned our plan. But when our friend finally appeared, we cheered loudly and we proudly held our sign up: “Congratulations! Not Guilty!”

I don’t know if any of those who witnessed our prank realized it was a joke. They may have been curious about whether they would recognize the face getting off the plane from the news. But I do know they were interested in who was coming because of how we were waiting.

Are people interested in the Christ you are waiting for? Maybe that has to do with how you are waiting? A child waiting for a parent to come home and administer a punishment behaves differently than one waiting for a parent to come home and ease a broken heart. A child waiting for a parent to bring home test results behaves differently than one waiting for a parent to bring home a present.

What you do while you wait, tells people who you are waiting for and what you think about them. What do people see when they see us waiting for Christ? What does that make them assume about Christ’s identity?

What, or who, are you waiting for?

May we wait for Christ expectantly, with energetic hope.
May we prepare the way for Christ by doing what we would expect him to do on behalf of others. 
May we prepare the way for Christ by being the kind of servant that Christ lived as when he was among us.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
For God alone my soul in silence waits; truly, my hope is in him. — Psalm 62.6

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
2 Chronicles 5=6:11 (Listen -9:57) 
1 John 4 (Listen -2:58)

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Read more about Abandoning Sinful Hopes :: Hope of Advent
Christ’s Advent will be revealing in our lives. Too often what we hope for condemns us…Let go of the sinful things you hope for. Give them up to him

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