Zealous Correction and Healing — Hope of Advent

Scripture Focus: 2 Chronicles 7.11-16
11 When Solomon had finished the temple of the Lord and the royal palace, and had succeeded in carrying out all he had in mind to do in the temple of the Lord and in his own palace, 12 the Lord appeared to him at night and said: 
“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices. 
13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there. 

Luke 2.45-49
45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” 
49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”

Reflection: Zealous Correction and Healing — Hope of Advent
By John Tillman

God promised Solomon that his eyes, ears, and heart would always be in the Temple and attentive to those who sought him there. But, God warned that if they turned away and abandoned him, he would reject Solomon’s Temple, destroy it, and exile his people away from the Temple and his presence. The slide into idolatry began quickly. Soon, Solomon built other temples for false gods and joined in worshiping there.

By the time Jesus visited Jerusalem, Solomon’s Temple had been destroyed and burnt with fire. Jesus entered a rebuilt version. However, Jesus’ eyes, ears, and heart still longed to be there, engaging in his father’s business.

One of the humorous mysteries of the incarnation is imagining adults teaching young Jesus about the world he created and the scriptures he inspired. Imagine him, who filled the hearts of psalmists until they burst with poetry, learning to sing words he shaped. Imagine him, who spoke through Isaiah and other prophets about the minute details of his life, ministry, and death, sitting in Nazareth’s Hebrew school listening to a teacher interpret Isaiah’s words without realizing they are about him. Imagine Jesus, who “knew what was in each person” (John 2.24-25), learning ethics from a pharisee who will “devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers.” (Mark 12.40)

For Jesus, God’s house was the Temple, flawed as it was. Like today, corruption in religious circles was rampant, and religious leaders were more concerned about political power than truth or justice. Jesus showed us an example of maintaining zeal for God’s house in his life, but that zeal didn’t mean warm, fuzzy nostalgia or not rocking the boat. Every time Jesus came to the Temple, there was something to confront. In the Temple, Jesus deconstructed hypocrisy, repaired the foundations of faith, healed broken bodies, mended broken hearts, and corrected crooked teaching. Don’t we hope for that today?

For us, God’s house is the church, flawed as it is. Advent tells us Jesus is coming. To our churches. To our cities. To us. His eyes, ears, and heart are in his church today. What might Jesus see, hear, and feel in our churches? Will he long to stay? Will he find us doing his father’s business?

Thank God, Jesus is zealous for imperfect people and places! May his Advent bring zealous correction for our errors and healing for our weaknesses.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the lord; we bless you from the house of the Lord. — Psalm 118.26 

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

Today’s Readings
2 Chronicles 7  (Listen 4:07)
Psalms 114-115 (Listen 2:18)

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How Are You Waiting? :: Hope of Advent

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Scripture Focus: 1 John 5.1-3
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands.

Reflection: How Are You Waiting? :: Hope of Advent
By John Tillman

Especially during the holidays, we are familiar with the feelings of awaiting the arrival of loved ones. The way we wait often varies. On my mother’s side of the family, my Granny and family waited in a celebratory way.

When we were expected at my granny’s home, in the deep country of northern Mississippi, the sound of our tires on the gravel road would announce our coming perhaps a mile before we got there. At times, we rolled up to the house with our relatives’ dogs baying and running along beside us and cousins riding bikes in our wake of dust. We would barely have the car parked before a joyful command from my Granny’s throat would be shouted out the screen door to us, “Get in this house!” It was both an unmistakable command, shouted in the same voice that might say “don’t touch that stove,” and a celebratory description of what was about to happen. We would rush up to cross her threshold and be embraced tightly and enthusiastically. I can best describe it as “lovingly-aggressive anticipation.”

When I go to my parents’ home today, unless I drop by unannounced, the experience is similar. The drapes are open so they can see when we drive up. The door is unlocked and we just walk in. I am usually met at the door with a hug of greeting, or sometimes a shout from the kitchen, “Come on in!” or “Get in here!” Our arrival is not simply expected, but prepared for and anticipated with longing. We are not simply welcomed, but celebrated. This is how the Church waits in the time of Advent. 

Advent is a time in which we leave the front door unlocked for we know the time of Christ’s coming. It is a time in which, we open the front drapes to see down the driveway, we listen for the engine in the distance, the thunderous roll of tires on gravel roads. 

When we do the joyful work of anticipation and preparation for Christ’s Advent, we may find that it is actually we who are coming home. We are reflecting the anticipation of the Father. And it is actually the voice of Christ who will one day shout with lovingly-aggressive anticipation, “Get in this house!” as we cross the threshold of Heaven.

May we prepare and anticipate the coming of Christ.
May we say to him, “get in this house,” inviting him into our churches, our communities, our homes, and our hearts.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
Hosanna, Lord, hosanna!…Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; we bless you from the house of the Lord. — Psalm 118.25-26

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

Today’s Readings
2 Chronicles 6:12-42 (Listen -7:17) 
1 John 5 (Listen -3:00)

This Weekend’s Readings
2 Chronicles 7 (Listen -4:07), 2 John (Listen -1:50)
2 Chronicles 7 (Listen -3:02), 3 John (Listen -1:51)

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Read more from A Prayer of Hope :: Hope of Advent
During Advent we trim our lamps and supply ourselves with oil that we may be ready when Christ comes.

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