Monday, December 7, 2015

From Austin Seminary: "Advent Devotional" for December 7

"A gift from our community of faith to you. We at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary are devoted to preparing outstanding leaders for Christ’s church. One of the ways that we nurture leaders is by building a loving community of faith and extending God’s grace to others. In this season of anticipation, we extend God’s grace to you and invite you to explore this book of Advent devotions. Through this collection, please join us as we prepare to receive God’s greatest gift—the birth of Jesus Christ."

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Advent Devotional for Monday, December 7

Psalm 126

One of a collection of poems—Songs of Ascent— perhaps used by the faithful on pilgrimages to Jerusalem, Psalm 126 weaves together themes of restoration, rejoicing, and praise.

References to the “fortunes of Zion” that the “Lord restored” evoke the return from Babylonian exile, though many post-exilic texts of economic hardship and disunity paint anything but a picture of joyous return. The opening idiom, suggesting a restoration or bringing back of an earlier situation, causes interpretive problems—any number of “restorations” are implied.

As this year winds down we are reminded of the many ways in which we long to be restored—the many ways daily images of economic hardship and disunity wear us down, the many ways we have become captive to the world, the many ways we have lost hope.

The promise of Advent restores us as we continue our pilgrimage and reminds us of our heritage—we are the heirs of a people of faith. We inherit the faith of those who looked past the appearances of the arid conditions in the Negeb, knowing that its “watercourses” would overflow immediately following the rains. As a people of faith we affirm, despite appearances, that the light does shine in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

We hear the call of the psalmist this Advent season, the call to remember our heritage and be like dreamers— those whose lives are shaped not by outward appearances, but by the hidden reality of the life that is the light of all people. Advent reminds us that the birth of Jesus Christ attests to this reality—God’s world and ways—entering into our lives, “filling our mouths with laughter and our tongues with shouts of joy.” We rejoice knowing “those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.” We reaffirm that “the Lord has done great things” for us.

Eternal God of all of us: Restore us this Advent to new life in you. As we remember the great things you have done for us and celebrate the wonder of this season, may we be the ones who dream, whose mouths are filled with laughter and whose tongues shout with joy. Amen.

Linda Whiteside
MDIV Student from Austin, Texas

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.

This post produced with Bible Gateway reference/link 

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