Advent Devotion - Monday, December 11

from Vagel Keller

Ps 27, The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?  When the wicked advance against me to devour or slander me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall.  Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.  One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek:  that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.  For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.  Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord.  Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me.  My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”  Your face, Lord, I will seek.  Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior.  Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.  Teach me your way, Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.  Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, spouting malicious accusations.  I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

Is 26:  7-15, The path of the righteous is level; you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth.  Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.  My soul yearns for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you.  When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness.  But when grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and do not regard the majesty of the Lord.  Lord, your hand is lifted high, but they do not see it.  Let them see your zeal for your people and be put to shame; let the fire reserved for your enemies consume them.  Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.  Lord our God, other lords besides you have ruled over us, but your name alone do we honor.  They are now dead, they live no more; their spirits do not rise.

You punished them and brought them to ruin; you wiped out all memory of them.  You have enlarged the nation, Lord; you have enlarged the nation.  You have gained glory for yourself; you have extended all the borders of the land.

Acts 2:  37-42, When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”  Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”  With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”  Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

Reading through Advent reflections on Psalm 27 on the Internet, I found this children's song (to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star"):

Advent is a time to wait,

      Not quite time to celebrate.

Count the candles one by one,

      Until Advent time is done.

Advent is a time to wait,

      Not quite time to celebrate.

The author of the sermon where this song was mentioned points out that Psalm 27 is about waiting patiently in the present, earthly life – with all its trials and tribulations – for a future life everlasting in glory with God.  The central theme of these three scriptural readings seems to be a particular type of tribulation (or, state of great trouble or suffering, according to my online dictionary) that beset not only the writer/participants then but that affect us today:  living in a society dominated by people and institutions that not only don't share our faith in God's salvation but sometimes seek to suppress expression of that faith.  At no time of year is that more evident than in the almost completely secularized Holiday (dare I say Christmas?) Season.

I take heart from these readings.  We know, just as King David, Isaiah the Prophet, and the Apostles did, that God sent his Son – as he promised he would – and that Jesus Christ will return someday for us.  In the meantime, while we celebrate homecomings with loved ones and give thanks for their safety and good health through the year, we can get ready to celebrate and give thanks for His birth in just a couple more weeks.  Christmas IS coming!