He Became a Servant — Love of Advent

Scripture Focus: Habakkuk 3.2, 13-19
2 Lord, I have heard of your fame; 
I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. 
Repeat them in our day, 
in our time make them known; 
in wrath remember mercy. 

13 You came out to deliver your people, 
to save your anointed one. 
You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness, 
you stripped him from head to foot. 
14 With his own spear you pierced his head 

Luke 22.25-27
25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

Reflection: He Became a Servant — Love of Advent
By John Tillman

Habakkuk’s psalm longs for the Lord to make himself known as he had in the past. 

The prophet seems to be referencing the Exodus from Egypt, as he depicts God marching out with plagues and pestilence. He recalls God intervening to save Israel from the oncoming armies of Pharaoh. 

Habakkuk trusts that calamity will come on the nation that conquers Judah, but that does not bring him joy. No matter that all seems to be failing around him, his joy will come from God.

What Habakkuk waited for, we have seen in Jesus. God served the enslaved Israelite nation by coming as a mighty warrior, a liberator. Jesus enacted a different kind of Exodus from a different kind of slavery. He attacked sin and death itself, not by becoming a warrior but by becoming a servant.

Jesus also marched out, with his face set like flint toward those he came to save and what he came to do. But instead of bringing with him destruction and plagues, he brought compassion and healing. Instead of girding himself with armor and taking up weaponry, he stripped himself and took up a towel. Instead of slaying the first-born of Egypt, Jesus, the only begotten son of the Father, offered himself to be slain.

And just like Pharoah rushed into the parted sea with his armies, thinking he had won, Satan must have thought the cross a moment of victory. Instead, it was the instrument of his destruction.

Habakkuk wanted God to make himself known, and he has done so in the person of Jesus. Jesus is our perfect and complete picture of what God is like. He is still among us as one who serves and we are to be like him.

May we serve him well by serving others. Worldly leaders will continue to puff themselves up. Kings will continue to abuse their power. Darkness will continue to wage a futile war against light. But as for us, we will rejoice in the Lord and be joyful in God our Savior.

May the Sovereign Lord be your strength, making your feet like those of a deer, to go on the heights. (Habakkuk 3.18-19; Psalm 18.33)

Divine Hours Prayer: The Morning Psalm
I will exalt you, O Lord, because you have lifted me up and have not let my enemies triumph over me.
O Lord my God, I cried out to you, and you restored me to health. — Psalm 30.1-2

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle


Today’s Readings
Habakkuk 3 (Listen – 2:59)
Luke 22 (Listen – 7:58)

Read more about End of Year Giving and Supporting our work
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Read more about Seeking God’s Servant
This “servant song” foreshadows Christ as the Servant whom the Father will raise up for His purposes.

He Became Poor — Love of Advent

Scripture Focus: Habakkuk 2.6-8, 18-20
6 “ ‘Woe to him who piles up stolen goods 
and makes himself wealthy by extortion! 
How long must this go on?’ 
7 Will not your creditors suddenly arise? 
Will they not wake up and make you tremble? 
Then you will become their prey. 
8 Because you have plundered many nations, 
the peoples who are left will plunder you. 
For you have shed human blood; 
you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.
 
18 “Of what value is an idol carved by a craftsman? 
Or an image that teaches lies? 
For the one who makes it trusts in his own creation; 
he makes idols that cannot speak. 
19 Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Come to life!’ 
Or to lifeless stone, ‘Wake up!’ 
Can it give guidance? 
It is covered with gold and silver; 
there is no breath in it.” 
20 The Lord is in his holy temple; 
let all the earth be silent before him.

Reflection: He Became Poor — Love of Advent
By John and Melissa Tillman

Pride…
Dissatisfaction that leads to debt…
Looking to wealth for security…
Drunken revelry…

The themes of Habakkuk 2 sound like a godless, joyless, commercialized Christmas. We can get trapped in the trappings of Christmas. Their shine and glimmer can become idols to our own desires.

The idols of our modern age are not that different from those of any other age. Instead of worshiping the true God, in whom we live and move and have our being, we make for ourselves idols to our liking. Our culture worships a nameless pull, a desire for more, a never ending hunger. 

Habakkuk describes a hunger like the grave.

The prophets all connect the accumulation of unjust wealth with bloodshed of the poor. 
Whether this is intended to be literal or metaphorical, it shows that God acknowledges that part of the wealth of the elite comes from the life’s blood of the poor. In addition, the reasons God gives for his just acts of judgment against Israel and Judah include idolatry and moral failures, but also always include offenses related to oppression of the poor.

Another sign of God’s deep love for the poor is that Jesus entered the world through the womb of a poor girl to become a part of a poor family. He even chose to live the last few years of his life as a poor, homeless man.

Jesus comes to proclaim good news to the poor as one of the poor. 

His love extends to all of us in every form of our poverty.
Our poverty of wealth…
Or our poverty of compassion…
Our poverty of family…
Or our poverty of care…
Our poverty of justice…
Or our poverty of grace…

Whether our poverty is of physical things or spiritual things, Christ proclaims to our impoverished hearts his good news. He became poor so that we might, through his poverty, become rich. (2 Corinthians 8.9)

His love will fill us with good things. (Luke 1.53)
His love will perfect us into the image of himself. 
His love, if we let it, will make us shine like stars that proclaim the goodness of God in a dark world.  (Philippians 2.15)

Divine Hours Prayer: The Prayer Appointed for the Week
Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Grant us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle


Today’s Readings
Habakkuk 2 (Listen – 3:20)
Luke 21 (Listen – 4:18)

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Read more about A Prayer of Hope :: Hope of Advent
Lord, as the world grows darker, the hope we have in Christ, burns brighter.

A Prayer of Hope :: Hope of Advent

Habakkuk 2.3
For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end
and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
it will certainly come
and will not delay.

Luke 21.28
When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

Reflection: A Prayer of Hope :: Hope of Advent
By John Tillman

During Advent we trim our lamps and supply ourselves with oil that we may be ready when Christ comes.

A guided prayer using today’s readings from Habakkuk and Luke:

Lord, as the world grows darker, the hope we have in Christ, burns brighter.

When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.

I will stand at my watch
and station myself on the ramparts;
I will look to see what he will say to me

“Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald may run with it.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end
and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
It will certainly come
and will not delay.

We wait, O Lord, for your word.
We wait, O Lord, for your presence.
Give us your word, that we may be your herald, running with beautiful feet that bring your good news.

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.

“Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?”

We are impatient, Lord. Teach us endurance in the waiting.
We are anxious, Lord. Teach us to be calmed by you.
We are fearful, Lord. Teach us to trust you in all circumstances.
Trusting you is equally difficult in suffering and in plenty.
In plenty we do not trust you for we have no needs.
In want we do not trust you for we fear you caused our suffering.

No matter how much or how little we have in this world, one thing is true—it is all dust that is passing away.
May we find rest and peace by trusting our lives to you—by putting our hope in your word.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

What are we waiting for? We wait, Lord, for your word.
We wait, Lord, to hear you speak that light will come forth.

The Lord is in his holy temple;
let all the earth be silent before him.

Let us hear from you in silence.
Let us worship you in hope.

Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  —2 Corinthians 4:6

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

Prayers from The Divine Hours available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Habakkuk 2 (Listen – 3:20)
Luke 21 (Listen – 4:18)

This Weekend’s Readings
Habakkuk 3 (Listen – 2:59) Luke 22 (Listen – 7:58)
Zephaniah 1 (Listen – 3:09) Luke 23 (Listen – 6:39)

Additional Reading
Read More about Resting in Hopelessness :: Readers’ Choice
We fear contentment because it has become conflated with complacency. How can we rest at peace when there are great things to accomplish, proper beliefs to be held, and greener pastures in which we could find ourselves? And so we press on—unaware, performing, and restless.

Read More about Seeing the Lord :: Readers’ Choice
My eyes were blinded by the temporal, until an
eternal God shook the doorposts of my soul.
He came to me

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Abandoning Sinful Hopes :: Hope of Advent

Luke 20.13, 38
“Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’

Reflection: Abandoning Sinful Hopes :: Hope of Advent
By John Tillman

In Christ’s parable, the advent of the landowner’s son was revealing. It revealed the sinful depths of the tenant farmers’ hearts.

In their hearts, they denied their own identity as tenants and stewards.
They maintained the pretense that they were owners, the sole determiners of their fate.
They denied that they relied on the landowner.
They denied what they owed the landowner.
They eventually, through murder, attempted to deny the existence of the landowner.

They are remarkably like us.

In the context of Luke, this parable is tied directly to Christ’s advent to Jerusalem. It is targeted directly, scandalously, at the religious leaders. The religious leaders understood it, but his disciples seem to miss the point. The twelve, despite this parable, don’t realize that Jesus is not about to enact the landowner’s revenge that they hope for, but the son’s unjust murder.

But the parable can also be applied to us. Are we so different in what we wish for, than the religious leaders and disciples who first heard this parable? Aren’t we in many ways waiting for the things they were waiting for? Revenge? Power? Worldly success?

Christ’s Advent will be revealing in our lives. Too often what we hope for condemns us.

Do we hope for salvation from our lusts, or the submission of others to fulfill our lusts?
Do we hope for deliverance from our desire for power, or that worldly power (and people) would be delivered for our domination?
Do we hope to be freed from our greed, or for others to appease our greed?
Do we hope for the freedom to live out Christ’s directives to us, or for the power to enslave others to our directives?

What are you waiting for? Let go of the sinful things you hope for. Give them up to him. Grasp instead the abundance of God’s grace that is our hope.

Prayer: The Request for Presence
For God alone my soul in silence wits, truly, my hope is in him.  — Psalm 62:6

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

Prayers from The Divine Hours available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Habakkuk 1 (Listen – 2:39)
Luke 20 (Listen – 5:07)

Additional Reading
Read More about Fasting According to our Lusts :: Throwback Thursday
May we fast from whatever lust holds our heart most tightly, loosening its grip on us and tightening our grip on Jesus Christ.

Read More about In Denial about Greed and Power
Ezekiel’s purposely shocking parable is intended to connect the established shame of sexual sins to the sins Israel was unashamed of—greed and pursuit of power.

Support our Work
Each month over 22,000 Park Forum email devotionals are read around the world. Support our readers with a monthly or a one time donation. 

Love’s Journey :: Advent’s Love

The town of St. Joseph, 60 miles north of Kansas City, MO, originally served as a starting point for the Oregon Trail. In its heyday, the streets would have been filled with thousands of pioneers provisioning for the final time before “jumping off”—a term used for leaving civilization behind for the nearly half-year journey west.

Almost thirty years after the Civil War, in 1892, Katherine Kennicott Davis was born into a second-generation pioneer family who had settled in the old trailhead town. By the time Davis was born the railroad had expanded and St. Joseph was no longer as influential. Much like the town they lived in, Davis’ family was neither culturally elite or affluent, but even as a child she showed unique talent which would shape her life.

While pioneers risked everything to travel from St. Joseph into the promise and peril of the Wild West, Davis would take her own risks, cutting her own path east. After graduating from Wellesley College in Massachusetts, she braved trans-Atlantic travel to study at the Royal Academy of Music.

Davis returned to the US and, with a world-class education, dedicated herself to teaching children music at various schools across New England. The majority of the more than 600 pieces Davis composed during her lifetime were for the children she taught.

In 1941 Davis penned, “The Carol of the Drum,” which would be popularized as, “Little Drummer Boy” when the Trapp Family Singers picked it up in 1955. Despite her volume of work and level of talent, Davis isn’t widely known for any other song.

The story of the “Little Drummer Boy” embodies part of the beauty of Davis’ story. The song begins with a boy taking a risk to travel and sit with someone great. The boy is aware of—but undeterred by—his simple heritage, offering his musical talent with great diligence. Though many might overlook such a musician, he receives the prize upon which his hope was set: the love of the One whom he has been playing for all along.

ListenLittle Drummer Boy by Burl Ives (3:17)

Today’s Reading
Habakkuk 3 (Listen – 2:59)
Luke 22 (Listen – 7:58)

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