Devotional Written for American Baptist Seminary of the West | Advent 2018
Scripture: Malachi 3:5-12 and Luke 1:68-79
Advent is the season when we feel how desperately we long for Jesus’ coming into our world today. It is a time of searing honesty, of vehement lament, of deep cries, and hopeful longing. In Advent, we tell God that we yearn for God to break into our world now, because we keenly need the healing presence of Christ.
The scripture from Malachi is gritty but profoundly hopeful. Malachi speaks of God’s judgment and reminds us that God sees what is happening in this world and in this country. The season of Advent says God’s coming is sure. This good news will fill some with hope and others with dread.
Zechariah’s tongue-tied silence is broken by the song he sings at his son’s naming ceremony. An infant now, John will become a fiery, locust-eating, wilderness-dwelling preacher calling people to repentance. We hear, though, in Zechariah’s song a countermelody that is woven into John’s name and existence: “By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” God’s judgment is also God’s tender mercy. This is the promise; this is our hope.
Prayer: God, you fill us with a vision of what you most desire for your beloved world. So fill our hearts with longing for your presence that the heavens themselves open. May your reign of love and tender mercy break through into our most desolate places. We love you. We need you. Guide our feet into the way of peace. Amen.
Jennifer W. Davidson, PhD
Associate Professor of Theology & Worship