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December 12 | Malachi 3:6-18


 

DAILY READING


 

REFLECTION


A Thrill of Hope, The Weary World Rejoices

by Dan Kidd


The final book of the Old Testament, the last words in the Christian Bible before the first Gospel book begins, come from a minor prophet named Malachi. Though Israel had returned from exile and the temple had been rebuilt, the things that the Lord had promised the Israelites, and expected from them, had not come to be. In today's passage the Lord calls Israel to put an end to their greed and scarcity mindset and return to the generosity God intended for them. God then hears the complaints of his people, that justice alludes them and so what is the point of faithfully obeying the Lord. He responds by telling them to write a book of remembering the faithfulness of God. How appropriate that at the end of the Old Testament, even as the people longed for the full fulfillment of God that had not yet come, they are reminded of the treasure of Scripture--that, as we remember together what God has done, we can have faith and a living, animating hope in what God will do.


Earlier this week we heard the song of Zechariah, where he praises the Lord who delivers his people from the hands of the enemy, allows them to serve him without fear, and grants them salvation through forgiveness. Hundreds of years after Malachi prophesied about the Lord reconciling his treasured possessions to himself, Zechariah can sing a similar song about the near birth of his son, John, who would be the one preparing the way for Jesus--the fulfillment of God's word through Malachi.


When I think about all this, how the Lord prepared his people for the Gospel of Jesus over 400 years before he would make it so, I can't help but marvel at how different God's sense of timing is from my own. And this is something that Advent invites us to recognize, speak about, and experience: that we continue to wait on the coming of Jesus both impatiently and with faith. It doesn't take a particularly attentive person to notice that there are many ways that this world is not as the Lord created it to be. Perhaps it's simply the coincidence that Advent occurs as the sun starts setting so early in the evening, but I find myself with a sense of waiting on Jesus, the Light of the World, as I sit uncomfortable in the darkness, waiting for things to mend. Not so unlike those Israelites who, centuries ago, had returned home only to fall right back into the patterns of rebellion and waywardness that had led to their exile, and again feeling the disappointment and dissonance from the God who loved them.


Today, I endeavor to live in the fullness of Advent. Acknowledging the present moment where there's darkness and dissonance, where I long for the things of the Kingdom that aren't yet here. At the same time, I remember the faithfulness of God's history, throughout the world with his people, and in my own story, which fuels the faith to look ahead, "for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn."


PRAYER


Lord, let it be that we would not ignore or quiet the discontent of our hearts that longs for you. Rather, allow us to see with clear, sober eyes the darkness we might find ourselves in, and the darkness within us. Do this so that we would remember again how deeply we need you, how much we long for you, and what a true thrill it is that you have come near to us, forgiven us, delivered us, reconciled us, and promised us the Light that will extinguish all darkness--even replace the sun itself; that we can know this is true because you are, and have been, so very faithful. Amen.







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