"...the announcement to Jerusalem will be, 'Cheer up, Zion! Don’t be afraid! For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.'"
This is the second week of Advent, a season of preparation for celebrating the birth of the Savior. The main mood of Advent is one of serious hope. It’s a time more of quiet longing than loud celebration. But many Christians let Advent be a time of joy. Even as we remember how the Jews waited for the coming of the Messiah, and even as we wait for his second coming, we remember and wait with joy, because we know how the story ends. Christ was born! Christ is coming again! There will be a time when God will wipe away every tear, when the lion will lie down with the lamb, when implements of war will be turned into tools for harvesting. Thus we rejoice even as we wait with hope.
The prophet Zephaniah brought a word of hope to Israel. The day would come when God would live among his people. He would be their savior and delight in them. The Lord himself would rejoice over his people with joyful songs. What a great vision of the future! Wouldn’t you love to see God singing with joy over his people … over you?!
As you celebrate Advent today, allow yourself to reflect on the vision of Zephaniah. Consider what it would be like to hear God rejoicing over you with joyful songs. Think of what it would be like to live in the light of this vision.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Do you think of God as taking delight in you with gladness? Why or why not? What would it be like to hear God sing a joyful song over you? How might it transform your life?
PRAYER: Dear Lord, sometimes it is hard to wait for you. Waiting can be serious stuff, especially when we are in the midst of loss or pain or confusion. We yearn for you to heal us, to restore our relationships, and to finish your good work in us. Moreover, we ache for you to mend this broken world. Our hearts desire the new creation, when children will no longer die from hunger, when people will no longer kill each other, when oppression will be shattered by your justice.
Yet even in our aching for your new work yet to come, we wait with joy. Our hope will be fulfilled because our hope is in you. The new creation is coming. Christ will return to reign. Your kingdom will one day be fully here. And in that day, you will rejoice over us, and we will get to experience it. What a wonder that will be!
So, dear Lord, in this serious season of Advent, we pause to rejoice in you, because you are our God, our King, our Savior, the Lover of our Souls. Amen.
“ … we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Rom. 5:4-5).
Every now and then (or perhaps more often than that), it might be hard to find hope in this world. Even in the midst of celebrating the birth of Christ, we may struggle to see the silver lining. At the height of all the revelry, it may be difficult to find a solid foothold or a ledge to hang onto. And so, Jesus joins us in the center of it all, acknowledging the dark and dreary and not requiring us to “buck up” or “get a grip.” Instead, he lies in a manger, a star over his head, and silently invites us to look up. Christ is at work in the world, despite evidence to the contrary. In this series, Advent Hope, join us as together, we take a deep breath and dare to look up.