GNB 1.178

December 20, 2022 (The third day of the fourth week of Advent 2022)

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:

“He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped His servant Israel remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as He promised.” (Luke.1.53-55)

TODAY’S REFLECTION:

It really is simple: God’s promises for the provision of our life on earth as it will be in Heaven are kept because He loves His people. God has always loved His people. God will always love His people. We must never misunderstand God’s love for all His people. God’s love is the promise to keep His Word. Another word for promise is covenant. In the last stanza of Mary’s song, she tells of Abraham and his descendants. In so doing, she brings to Elizabeth’s attention, and by default Zechariah and the unborn John, the covenantal nature of God with His people. When God called Abram out of the Ur of the Chaldees, He established the covenant of “I will make you a father of nations. Your descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the heaven and the grains of sand by the sea.” At that moment it seemed like a great impossibility because Abram and Sarai were already then in advanced years. But, as we reflected upon yesterday “believing is receiving” and for Abram and Sarai their journey for conceiving the idea of becoming parents was not a likely reality. It would take some time for both Abram and Sarai to embrace the idea of fully trusting God to fulfill His promise and their destiny. We might look back on their story, if we did not know the end of it, and think “it will never happen.” Doing so, however, puts us into the same category of “a lack of faith.” Maybe it would be more aptly described as “an abundance of doubt and unbelief.”

How do we look upon the covenant of Immanuel in our own lives? Would we be able to conceive of the idea of “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness“? Would we be able to believe “…and all that is needed will be provided by God“? Would we be able to receive “The Lord is my shepherd who makes it possible for me to want for nothing“? Would we be able to “Trust in the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength” and be obedient to the leading of His Holy Spirit to work in us, with us and through us? Or are we more like Abram and Sarai who took matters into their own hands to make God’s destiny for their lives a reality? Look at the result of that effort: they laughed at God, they used a foreign “loophole” to provide an heir and jealousy ruled their lives which led to the consideration of sacrificing two sons. Yes, one son was driven into the wilderness as the scapegoat for Sarai’s jealousy. She agreed to, even conceived of, the idea to use the “rule of substitution” to give Abraham a son but it did not fill her life with joy. Worse, Abraham agreed to the plan to receive a son, believing Sarah’s plan was good, so that Ishmael could be conceived as his own and thus satisfy God’s covenant agreement by his own work. Except, that wasn’t God’s covenant agreement at all. So, when Isaac was born as God had promised, Abraham had to take this “little lamb” to Mount Moriah to be sacrificed as a good faith offering. Abraham had to be willing to give up all he had to receive all that God had promised to him. And that promise was a future beyond anything Abraham could have imagined. Little did Abraham know that his eventual act of faith to trust God in life and death would lead to the saving of God’s people and the establishment of the Church as his true descendants. It was a foretaste of the incarnation of Immanuel.

So, what is God conceiving in you, asking you to believe and inviting you to receive today in this Advent season. How will the love of God make itself known in you as you share this good news of a great joy illustrating God is love? What is it that you are willing to sacrifice so that the covenant of trust established between you and God can be fulfilled and passed on in the generations to come. And generations will be born through you! Jesus said to his detractors “I can silence My disciples. But, if I do, even the very stones will cry out ‘Hosannah.’” (Luke 19.40) It is not by flesh and blood but by faith that we receive the opportunity to bring great joy into the world. It is not with gifts created from and out of this world that make the best song. Rather, it is out of the heart, mind and soul which speaks of the glory and goodness of God. Christmas is a time of remembering our own birth by faith which God had in authentic love, His love in us. Christmas is a time to embrace our worth and value not in gifts wrapped in bows, ribbons and paper but in the gift wrapped in swaddling cloth lying in a manger. We are like the shepherds who sang their own song which Mary received in her heart, which Joseph believed in his mind and which the seed of hope conceived in everyone who bore witness to the birth of the gospel that day and every day following. Christmas is a time to reaffirm our accepting the covenant which God made with each of us to be our God and for us to be His people. Accepting that allows our trust in Him to provide what is needed to be fulfilled as we walk by faith and not by sight through the greatest love story ever told.

TODAY’S PRAYER:

Father, we are so grateful for what You have done to make Your love complete in us. We pray for the blessing of Your Holy Spirit to teach us how to allow the finishing touches on our lives to be applied so that we may be a more perfect witness of Your authentic love. May our joy be complete and our song be sung today and all days yet to come in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

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