December 7, 2016
Psalm 38 · 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12
1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. 2 Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. 3 And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
4 The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7 The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.”
53 Then each of them went home, 1 while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. 5 Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”
I always pack at the last minute. I forget to bring snacks to the park for my kids. As you are reading this, I have yet to buy a single Christmas present. Needless to say, I’m not very good at getting ready—at preparation. To be fair, I have some good excuses, two children under two with a third on the way, two jobs, and a million other things pulling me different directions. But the reality is that I am not a planner and as such Advent is a season that is foreign to my nature—a season of preparation. Each Advent season, I find myself in an unfamiliar space that invites me to pause, to prepare, to get ready.
Like me you may find yourself, in this season less prepared than you hoped to be by this point. We have yet to complete all the tasks on our to do list–party planning, gift buying, cookie baking, tree decorating. In addition, we may also find ourselves unprepared to encounter Jesus, unprepared because our lives are tainted with brokenness. Sometimes recognition of our brokenness is forced upon us by circumstances outside of our control, like in the case of the woman in our Gospel reading today. There are other times where our brokenness remains less obvious to us and rears its ugly head in the ways we mistreat and expose other people, demonstrated by the Pharisees failure to care for this woman.
The prophet Isaiah is also confronted with his own sin when he enters the presence of the Holy One. This kind of self-awareness, sometimes called repentance, is our small part in naming the ways in which we for one reason or another fail to see and live in a way that is consistent with the coming King. In Advent, we prepare room for Jesus by recognizing that that he is coming as King to establish justice, goodness, and peace. As we reflect in this season, let us consider the part we play in creating the kind of world where Jesus can be King. Jesus has hopeful words for us today. The same invitation that was extended to the adulterous women is extended to us in this Advent season: “Go and sin no more.” There is no condemnation, just an invitation to live into the goodness and wholeness of the coming King.
-Janna Mahoney Ziegler
God, grant me the grace to receive Jesus as King and live into his wholeness and goodness today.