One Worth Rejoicing In — Joy of Advent

Scripture Focus: Revelation 5.4-5
4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” 

2 Chronicles 16.9

9 For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him…

Reflection: One Worth Rejoicing In — Joy of Advent
By John Tillman

Asa started out so well and fell so far. 

Asa began as one of the great spiritual reformers of the Davidic line of kings. However, even though he is described as being “fully committed to the Lord” for his entire life (2 Chronicles 15.17), he definitely ended his life differently than he began his reign.

Later in his life, Asa’s theological and ceremonial religious reforms gave way to practical, political concerns. Eventually, due to faith in military power rather than God, Asa stripped the treasuries of the temple, purchasing military assistance. 

Asa justified his means by his ends. Asa’s heart hardened not only against God but against people. He became an oppressor of the people and imprisoned prophets who challenged him. Asa ended his life in bitter rebellion against God.

We have seen many leaders in the mold of Asa. Political and religious leaders who have begun as reformers. They win early, joyful victories and do good things but eventually are exposed as corrupt, cynical, immoral, or power-obsessed. They shrivel before our eyes like a diseased root. We may weep over the fall of these leaders or weep because we suffer under their abuse but there is a leader coming, the “Root of David” (Isaiah 11.1, 10-11; Revelation 5.5; 22.16), who will set all things right. 

As we weep for (or because of) unworthy leaders, we share tears with John, who wept that none were worthy to open the scroll in heaven. Before the seals were opened, the elder spoke to John and speaks to us: “Do not weep. The true root of Jesse, the root of David is coming!” We may weep while we wait, yet we can rejoice. 

The Lord is coming, who is our source of victory and joy. We are waiting for him and he is searching for us. The eyes of the Lord are looking for those who are humble, those who are committed to him, those who are weeping as they wait for him. If we humble ourselves, he will strengthen us.

May we be humble servants, not oppressors.
May we not grow proud of our own strength or fearful of others.
May we rely on God and his providence, not the machinations of this world.

Our joy is not in our own selves but in Christ. Triumph and joy are assured by the undefeatable identity of Jesus, our Emmanuel!

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
My lips will sing with joy when I play to you, and so will my soul, which you have redeemed. — Psalm 71.2

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

Today’s Readings
2 Chronicles 16 (Listen – 2:51)
Revelation 5 (Listen – 2:39)

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Revelation of Love :: Love of Advent

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Scripture Focus: Revelation 4.1
After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here…”

Reflection: Revelation of Love :: Love of Advent
By John Tillman

Revelation turns attention to Christ’s second Advent for which the season of Advent is designed to prepare us. In Revelation, we see through John’s eyes into Heaven and into a future that is both made already and in the making. 

Too often, I remember being terrified by ministers and laypeople teaching or preaching Revelation from the viewpoint of fear. These well-meaning souls leaned into the horrors of being left behind and doubled down on the troubling imagery of the tribulation, hoping, I think, to scare us spiritually straight. The fear of God, properly taught and understood is biblical and is part of learning about God. But fear-based teaching is doomed to fail. Fear, as a dominant motivation leads only to bad places. Decisions dominated by fear lead to selfish evil. Churches dominated by fear sanctify hatred. Governments dominated by fear commit atrocities. 

Ultimately, fear is not what Revelation is about. It is about love. Jesus starts his Revelation of the future to John by saying, “Come up here,” and those three words are a summary of the message of the book. The story of Revelation is a promise that none of God’s children will be left behind. All God’s children will come home. (”All God’s children” except those who refuse to. As C.S. Lewis said and we have often quoted, “the doors of Hell are locked on the inside.”)

No matter the evil forces, evil governments, spiritual powers, or societal pressures that grasp at us or stand in our way, we who answer Christ’s call will go home to Heaven. Revelation is the story of all of the obstacles to our homecoming being systematically unlocked, opened up, or destroyed—including the ones we built ourselves. Christ’s apocalyptic second Advent is about releasing God’s love and about releasing us to be received by God’s love.

Through Revelation, we can imagine three Advents. The first is that of the babe in the manger. It is quiet, humble, marked with beauty, and harried by danger. The second is that of the all-conquering king. It is loud, triumphant, marked with power, and restoration of justice. The third is not Christ’s advent but ours. It is our advent to the Kingdom of God as his lost children returned. It is celebratory and joyous and marked with tears, embraces, and laughter.

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Of the Baptizer, scripture says: “A feeling of expectancy had grown among the people, who were beginning to wonder whether John might be the Christ, so John declared before them all, ‘I baptize you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than me, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn; but the chaff he will burn in a fire that will never go out.’ And he proclaimed the good news to the people with many other exhortations too.” — Luke 3.15-18

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

Today’s Readings
2 Chronicles 14-15 (Listen -5:49)
Revelation 4 (Listen -2:09)

Today’s Readings
2 Chronicles 16 (Listen -2:51) Revelation 5 (Listen -2:39)
2 Chronicles 17 (Listen -2:48) Revelation 6 (Listen -3:12)

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