Sunday, December 15, 2013

Advent Reading

Here is the transcript of my contribution to the HOPAC Community Lessons and Carols Service.  It was a joy and privilege to be a part of this service to our Lord and Savior!

A Telling of God’s Silence and Whispers of Christ’s Coming

Malachi 4
“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the Lord of hosts.

“Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel.

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

“For behold, the day is coming…the day that is coming…the day when I act says the Lord of hosts.”

The Old Testament canon closes in the prophet Malachi’s book with a two-fold promise of a day of the LORD: on one side there is burning, fire, and destruction and on the other is righteousness, healing, and restoration.  

Hopeful, fearful anticipation filled the hearts of God’s people: Scorching fire and healing wings.  Those who fear the name of God are promised victory over the arrogant and all evildoers, but this, this is only a promise.  It is not yet a reality.

Instead of grasping and stepping into this reality, they are made to wait. To long for. To anticipate. “Behold, the day is coming” but it is not yet here. 

God’s people are left with a singular command: “Remember the law of my servant Moses…” combined with the whisper of a coming prophet, one like Elijah who would come, in the future, before the Lord arrived on a great and awesome day.  This man - John the Baptist - would prepare God’s people for their Messiah. 

Their Messiah would come and burn away the evildoers and the arrogant as sifted chaff in judgement. But this Messiah would also gather his people under his wings as a mother hen gathers her chicks. But that day was not this day.  This was the day of the prophet. It was not yet the day of the LORD.
Then, God stepped back into the dark silence. 



The twilight of the prophets turned into the darkest night of silence. And it lasted for 400 years.

God’s people lived in darkness. In sadness.  In that quiet space that felt like the darkest, deepest night.

And then came a whisper. 

“Zechariah! Your wife will have a son! He will prepare the way for the Most High King! Like Elijah, he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and children to their fathers!”

Whispers in the darkness. 
Words coming in the night.

“Mary! You will have a son, Jesus! He will be a greater king than David! He is the Son of the Most High God! His kingdom will never end!”

And one dark night, the Light broke through! 

God was silent no longer. And he was not whispering.  He was SHOUTING, “Good news! Great Joy! A Savior who is Christ, the Lord! He is here! He is born! The King is here!”

After 400 hundred years of night, 
                                              of silence, 
                                                       of longing, 
                                                                  of sadness, 
                                                                             of there being “always winter but never Christmas,” 

God SPOKE.  Not simply with human words of a prophet, but with THE Word, the logos, the Word in flesh, the incarnate God.  The Day of the LORD, long ago prophesied by the prophets like Malachi, had finally arrived!

Jesus, the Great Prophet, performed works greater than Elijah the prophet. 

Jesus, the Great High Priest, fulfilled the law of Moses the priest.  

Jesus, the Great King, rules yesterday, today, and tomorrow with perfect justice and unending mercy, greater than David the king.  

Our Prophet, Priest, and King had arrived exactly as it had been foretold!  

This year, may we again see what John the Baptist saw and join him in proclaiming the arrival of King Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

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