Advent | Day 3
Tuesday, November 29
- Psalms 5, 6, 10, 11
- Amos 3.1-11
- 2 Peter 1.12-21
- Matthew 21.12-22
I love Advent. It’s my favorite season of the church year. I love the decorations in the sanctuary, practicing beautiful music with my church choir, decorating the tree with my husband, waiting for it to snow, making plans to see family, lighting the Advent candles each week, singing carols, and reading the familiar stories. I even like that annoying radio station that plays the same fifteen holiday songs non-stop between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I love, in short, the delicious anticipation that is the hallmark of the Advent season.
But what is it that we are anticipating? In some ways, it is hope itself. We wait for the coming of Jesus Christ, both for his birth as a baby in Bethlehem and for that future day when the full justice and peace of God’s reign will come to our broken world. We wait for that little baby in the manger because Emmanuel, God with us, God in vulnerable human form, is our only hope, and it is a beautiful hope.
But it is not an easy task, to bring justice and peace. Sometimes the darkness of the world intrudes even into our Advent hope. Today’s Gospel text, from Matthew 21, shows us a Jesus who looks different from the sweet child of Christmas. The baby has grown into an adult with a divine passion for justice, equality, and mercy, and a fierce desire to see our worship of God reflect this. Matthew tells of an act that seems harsh, especially during Advent: “Then Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who were selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. He said to them, ‘It is written, my house shall be called a house of prayer; but you are making it a den of robbers.’” Jesus refused to stand silent when he saw an injustice, and that dedication is why he is our hope for a better world.
In the midst of the joy and beauty of Advent, let us remember that this hope is embodied not only in Jesus, but also in us as his followers, the body of Christ. May we follow Emmanuel when our hope is sung in Christmas carols and lullabies, and may we also follow when making that hope a reality requires us to overturn a few tables.
Assistant Professor, School of Religion
You can access an online version of the 2011 Advent Guide (presented annually be Belmont’s School of Religion) at: http://issuu.com/office.communications/docs/2011_advent_guide#download