Wednesday, December 21, 2016

From Austin Seminary: "Advent Devotional" for December 21

"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."

CLICK HERE for a complete schedule of this season's devotionals.
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Advent Devotional for Wednesday, December 21

Psalm 96

At summer camp, when I was a girl, we sang a song based on this psalm. It was a pump-up, feel-good song we sang at the top of our lungs during morning worship, standing around our guitar-playing counselors. There was a dance move that went with the line “greatly to be praised” and we danced and sang the morning in with great enthusiasm. As an adult—and a seminarian—I suspect that while our exuberance and joy would have pleased the psalmist, our complete omission of God’s incipient judgment might have seemed more than a little lacking.

But it’s Advent! It’s a time of light, of a bright star and a baby in a manger, of dreams and hopes and the incarnation of God. What place has judgment here? We don’t want judgment—we’re about to get to the best part and it will be light and joy and peace! And yet here stands the psalmist, reminding us that the joy and exuberance of the psalm is a lead-up to God coming and judging the peoples of the earth —and that the earth will rejoice.

Isn’t that tension between the joy in a new song and the coming judgment what Advent is about? The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light! But light is blinding after darkness, and our eyes are slow to adjust. The familiar hymns of Advent live in this tension, but not all of them capture the fierce joy of the psalmist. In Advent, judgment looks and sounds more like God’s righteousness and truth sweeping over the earth and its peoples, while creation rejoices. God’s people lift up their voices in trust and in joy and in the certainty of God’s love, singing of the marvelous works of God. This Advent season, remember as we wait in the darkness: the light is coming. It brings with it truth and righteousness—how can we keep from singing?

God of all songs, we bless your name and rejoice in your works. Help us to recognize your judgment as the place where you break into our lives with truth and righteousness. Create in us new songs to sing in joy and in sorrow, in darkness and in light. We pray in the name of your Son, Jesus the Christ, who was, and is, and is to come. Amen.

Madeline Hart-Anderson
MDIV Student from Minneapolis, Minnesota

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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