Advent Devotional: December 6
Endow the king with your justice, O God,
the royal son with your righteousness.
May he judge your people in righteousness,
your afflicted ones with justice.
May the mountains bring prosperity to the people,
the hills the fruit of righteousness.
May he defend the afflicted among the people
and save the children of the needy;
may he crush the oppressor.
May he endure as long as the sun,
as long as the moon, through all generations.
May he be like rain falling on a mown field,
like showers watering the earth.
In his days may the righteous flourish
and prosperity abound till the moon is no more.
– Psalm 72:1-7
Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds. Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen.
– Psalm 72:18-19
I often break the life of Jesus into two periods. The first period being the Christmas story, the infant story of Jesus that includes the Annunciation, the birth in Bethlehem, the visit of the shepherds and the epiphany, the visit of the magi. Finally the flight to Egypt. The second period is everything else. Christmas is my favorite day in the Christian calendar and Advent the best season. I love the Christmas story, everything about it, all the good and all the terrible things that occur. As a child I loved the intricacy of the Christmas story, the trappings of faith it required you to have to comprehend and believe it, the accessibility of the whole thing. It made a tremendous impression on me how powerful God coming to earth as a baby would be, how much I wanted to be one of those who saw him in that manger and realized I was looking on the face God. As a boy I liked to play with my family's manger set, arrange and order the figures and imagine the dialogue and actions of all the players, the way my own son played with Star Wars action figures. I have several sets, as an adult I've bought many and I enjoy setting them up and arranging them still.
I know as a good Christian that Easter is where the action is supposed to be. But the Easter story is so hard and so heavy and while ultimately so redeeming, it still crushes me every time I contemplate the fact that God had to come to earth, be born a man, suffer as one of us and ultimately die in order to redeem us. I struggle with his grace and the gift of my salvation. Not because I doubt it, but because I know how very unworthy I am. But I like to think about the idea of the king as described and defined in the Psalm above. There's a certain child-like awesomeness to that God, what we'd all want him to be, how we'd want him to act. It's a warm and powerful vision of God and the things he promises and fulfills in our lives. I have no problem conjuring an image of the God of the psalm and squaring it with the baby lying in a manger. I've been blessed with four children... I know how much power they each had at the moment of their births. If I magnify that vision with the baby born in Bethlehem I have no problem understanding the wonderful gift and presence of God.
Michael Malone, NorthPark Deacon