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Advent Devotional for Sunday, November 29
• Jeremiah 33:14a
“The days are surely coming, says the Lord ...”
We are called to see the world through the frosted windowpanes of nostalgia and memory. It is, after all, a “wonderful life,” isn’t it? Turn away from the broken systems, broken cities, and broken lives around us. It’s Christmas. Lighten up.
Advent is made of sterner stuff. Like the prophet Jeremiah of today’s reading, the season of Advent calls us to reality. For Jeremiah, the reality was impending destruction, the razing of Jerusalem. We, too, must see the world as it is. Like Jeremiah, we must name those places where, as Yeats once wrote, “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold.”
But facing reality does not lead to despair, for Advent is built on hope, hope in God and hope in God’s promises. Only in light of that hope can Jeremiah face a city about to be pillaged and prophesy that God will once again establish a just ruler in Jerusalem. Only with a hope stronger than nostalgia and “Christmas Spirit” can Jeremiah declare that, one day, the Holy City will be justified by the Creator of heaven and earth.
As Christians, we claim the fulfillment of God’s promise in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. But, we claim even more. Looking soberly at the world through Advent-colored eyes, we claim our own sturdy hope. We hope in a God of restoration, a God who once more will break into this world and bring justice, like a branch stubbornly rising from an old stump. Advent calls us to stand in the midst of a broken world, with hope on our lips, proclaiming “the days are surely coming, says the Lord …”
Eternal God: Advent is that season of life when we rouse ourselves to cling to you. No matter how much or many we have lost, Advent is our time to begin again with you, our living God, who does wonders we dare not even hope for. We ask—in our self-disgust, despair, depression, and grief—“Can we be saved?” Now we wait, longing for the angel’s promise: with God, all things are possible. Amen.
Associate Professor of New Testament
For the glory of God and to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary is a seminary in the Presbyterian-Reformed tradition whose mission is to educate and equip individuals for the ordained Christian ministry and other forms of Christian service and leadership; to employ its resources in the service of the church; to promote and engage in critical theological thought and research; and to be a winsome and exemplary community of God's people.
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