Third Saturday of Advent (Year B)

Pray

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Judges 13:2-24 | Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26 | John 7:40-52

Pray

Advent Meditation by Anderson K. Westerman

1  I will sing of your steadfast love, O LORD, forever;
      with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.
2  I declare that your steadfast love is established forever;
      your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.
3  You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
      I have sworn to my servant David:
4  ‘I will establish your descendants forever,
      and build your throne for all generations.’” Selah

Last Advent, I thought that 2020 was going to be the worst year of my life. This was before any knowledge of Covid had made it to the United States, but I was anticipating a horrible year of hard work and few and transitory joys. The reasons for this are complicated, but the point is that I was not anticipating joy when Christmas came. I cried through every church service I attended during that time, wondering why God would put me in such a situation, begging Him to deliver me from it, and asking Him if I would ever be able to live my own life again. When Covid did arrive, I didn’t see this as a disruption of an otherwise normal year, but just as another burden I would have to carry.

Both the Judges and the John segments appointed for today deal with disbelief that good things are coming. In Judges, a woman who believed she could not have children is told by an angel of the Lord that she will. In John, the crowds wonder if it is possible for the Messiah to come from Galilee. Sometimes, God’s unending and infinite love is hard to believe. In times like the year we have just had, where we see suffering from illness, death, economic devastation, and loneliness all around us, how can we sing of the Lord’s steadfast love?

But the angel of the Lord does come with good news, and the Messiah does arrive. God’s faithfulness is as firm as the heavens, and He delivers on His promises. In my moments of hopelessness last year, God was present. Strangely, I have been happier this year than I would have expected. Hope and love do not disappear, even in the most difficult moments, if we hold onto them. Even when everything around us looks bleak, we know that God’s love for us is unshakable, and that He has a plan to bring this time of suffering to an end. Sometimes the darkest moments are those where God’s presence can be felt most strongly. God responds to our pain with the promise that it will end and that He will be there for us all the way through it.

In Advent, we stand in a position of anticipation for Jesus’s birth. It feels hopeful, but also impossible. The completion will be joyful, but the waiting is painful. Anticipation is complicated. We know that God keeps his word, does not break his covenants, and that joyful fulfillment is coming. And, in the meantime, we can always reach out to Him for guidance and comfort.

19  Then you spoke in a vision to your faithful one, and said:
    “I have set the crown [e] on one who is mighty,
       I have exalted one chosen from the people.
20  I have found my servant David;
       with my holy oil I have anointed him;
21  my hand shall always remain with him;
       my arm also shall strengthen him.
22  The enemy shall not outwit him,
       the wicked shall not humble him.
23  I will crush his foes before him
       and strike down those who hate him.
24  My faithfulness and steadfast love shall be with him;
       and in my name his horn shall be exalted.
25  I will set his hand on the sea
       and his right hand on the rivers.
26  He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father,
       my God, and the Rock of my salvation!’

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