December 23, 2016
Revelation 22:6-11, 18-20 · Luke 1:57-66
1 The Lord is king, he is robed in majesty;
the Lord is robed, he is girded with strength.
He has established the world; it shall never be moved;
2 your throne is established from of old;
you are from everlasting.
3 The floods have lifted up, O Lord,
the floods have lifted up their voice;
the floods lift up their roaring.
4 More majestic than the thunders of mighty waters,
more majestic than the waves of the sea,
majestic on high is the Lord!
5 Your decrees are very sure;
holiness befits your house,
O Lord, forevermore.
17 Your eyes will see the king in his beauty;
they will behold a land that stretches far away.
18 Your mind will muse on the terror:
“Where is the one who counted?
Where is the one who weighed the tribute?
Where is the one who counted the towers?”
19 No longer will you see the insolent people,
the people of an obscure speech that you cannot comprehend,
stammering in a language that you cannot understand.
20 Look on Zion, the city of our appointed festivals!
Your eyes will see Jerusalem,
a quiet habitation, an immovable tent,
whose stakes will never be pulled up,
and none of whose ropes will be broken.
21 But there the Lord in majesty will be for us
a place of broad rivers and streams,
where no galley with oars can go,
nor stately ship can pass.
22 For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our ruler,
the Lord is our king; he will save us.
We live in a world consumed by hatred, violence, fear, anger, and betrayal. Yes, there are rays of light that shine through the darkness, bringing hope in the midst of despair, hurt, and confusion. But so often it seems that the light is not strong enough to overcome the darkness. At times it feels as though our own pain and suffering is so embodied that we cannot break free to truly experience the waves of grace that God lovingly embraces us with like a strong bear hug. It may even feel at times as though we are unworthy of God’s grace. Or perhaps we fear that if we allowed ourselves to accept it, we would be overcome by it. And yet, deep down we know that God’s grace is the answer to our hurting world, and indeed, our hurting selves.
How do we hold together these tensions of living in an often dark, broken, and needy neighborhood, with our longing to be free from pain?
Scripture holds before us an image of an immovable, eternal, and glorious city—the new Jerusalem—that disciples of Christ will live in after we die. It is the Kingdom of God where there is no more suffering, no more terror, hatred, or fear. Where fullness of life, abundant and overflowing with perfect love, joy, and peace bind us together as a unified family of God. This is the hope we have in the midst of our current storms. It is a hope that is stronger than any darkness. We see it break through in a shining star in Bethlehem, guiding us to the birth of Jesus. This light brings forth the breaking in of the Kingdom of God on earth through Christ. As we daily look to him, we behold our hope—God’s response to a hurting world, and indeed, our own wounds: the God who saves us.
Reflect for 2-4 minutes on the following questions:
- Where am I experiencing darkness or suffering in my own life?
- How is my neighbor encountering darkness or suffering in their life?
- Where is my hope for healing and freedom placed?
Loving God, in the midst of the darkness we look ahead to the life of Christ who came to save us. By the power of your Holy Spirit would you enable us to receive your grace, to heal our wounds, and to fill us with your light? Form us into your family who reaches out to our neighbor with love and compassion, shining your light into the darkness so that all may know the hope we have in Christ. Amen.