City of Revelry

Scripture Focus: Zephaniah 2:15
15 This is the city of revelry
     that lived in safety.
 She said to herself,
     “I am the one! And there is none besides me.”
 What a ruin she has become,
     a lair for wild beasts!
 All who pass by her scoff
     and shake their fists.

Reflection: City of Revelry
By Erin Newton

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­If you had to name a current “city of revelry,” what place would you think of first? It could be a city that hosts annual festivals like New Orleans and Mardi Gras or New York City and the Thanksgiving Day parade or Albuquerque and the hot air balloon festival. Perhaps it’s a small festivity like my hometown that hosts a winter wassail fest and a jazz concert weekend.

Amid all the fun, noise, and laughter, it is easy to look at life there and see it as indestructible. We rarely feel our weakness when we are having fun. Revelry can give way to self-reliance. Zephaniah prophesied to Assyria, looking at the city of Nineveh and remarking on her boasting: “I am the one! And there is none beside me.”

The pride of the city was wrapped up in its festivities, feasts, abundance, power, and relative safety. Assyria’s power remained unchecked for a long time. But now Nineveh was destroyed, only to become an uninhabited place and disgrace to passersby.

On a national scale, we have often chanted words similar to Nineveh—words that boast of greatness, might, strength, wealth, and luxury. Even on a local level, we easily scoff at how we are better than others. Seemingly innocent allegiances to universities or sports teams, political parties or celebrities, social agendas or denominational preferences, all these can turn our hearts to boasting our own greatness and belittling everyone who differs from us.

The pride of Nineveh meant she did not rely on God as we know him. She had gods that could be placated when they were angry and manipulated when she needed something. The gods Assyria truly trusted were her weapons and methods of terror. Her motto was to make everyone afraid and, therefore, submissive.

Rarely do we read the Old Testament and imagine ourselves in the place of Assyria. (We prefer to differentiate between them and us.) But our hearts are not so different from Nineveh. We boast in ourselves and trust only in our ease of living—equating that with being undefeatable.

Zephaniah also calls out to Judah—whose capital has not yet fallen in judgment. “Gather together, gather yourselves together… seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered” (vv. 1, 3).
We have the choice to be like Nineveh, forcibly humbled under judgment, or we can seek humility ourselves and find favor in God’s mercy.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Let us make a vow to the Lord our God and keep it; let all around him bring gifts to him who is worthy to be feared. — Psalm 76.11

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

​Today’s Readings
Zephaniah 2 (Listen 2:44)
Luke 6 (Listen 6:46)

Read more about He Raises Us
Zephaniah calls tenderly, yet urgently, to those who are faithful in the land to respond to God while there is still time

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He Raises Us — Love of Advent

Scripture Focus: Zephaniah 2.3
3 Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, 
you who do what he commands. 
Seek righteousness, seek humility; 
perhaps you will be sheltered 
on the day of the Lord’s anger. 

Luke 24.44-49
44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” 
45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49

Reflection: He Raises Us — Love of Advent
By John Tillman

Zephaniah calls tenderly, yet urgently, to those who are faithful in the land to respond to God while there is still time.

Seek righteousness. This is more than seeking our own good or simply doing good for ourselves. Any good that we do that does not also benefit our neighbor deserves not the name of “doing righteousness.

Seek humility. He is already calling to the humble in the land. This shows that humility is a constant seeking and lowering of one’s self and one never truly arrives at the bottom.

Perhaps you will be sheltered. In the family of believers there are many among us who know from experience that we may not always be shielded from all of life’s ailments, sicknesses, and hurts. Our dear Lord’s word that we would have trouble in this world is as equally true as his promise that he has overcome this world. His love is shown as much by his embrace when we are weeping as it is by blessings of laughter and joy.

Trouble is coming to this world. It is, after all, a world of darkness. How could it be otherwise? We made it so.

In our sinfulness, we wrested the world to our whims and wrecked it with our sins. Under Satan’s sway the world we cursed writhes in the evil darkness to which we subjugated it.

But no matter how low we have dragged the heights of God’s creation, he searches these low valleys for us.

No matter how deep in sin we sink our feet, or what bog’s stench hangs on us, or what fell parasites and diseases of the swamp cling to us, he reaches in. He wades deep. He dredges us up.

However low we are, he comes to raise us.
However vile we are, he comes to cleanse us.
However sickened we are, he comes to heal us.
However broken our body, he comes to make us whole.

Seek righteousness! Seek humility!
We may not all be sheltered from calamity, but we will all be raised!

Made like him, like him we rise…” (Christ the Lord is Risen Today — Charles Wesley)

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

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

Today’s Readings
Zephaniah 2 (Listen – 2:44)
Luke 24 (Listen – 6:16)

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He is always the God who comes to us—not just during Advent.