* This post is part of an Advent devotional being posted daily during Advent 2014. For an intro to this series of posts, please read the initial post here.
Monday 22 December
Read: Isaiah 55
(light four candles)
Christmas is almost here. In a way, we can hardly wait. Like children eager to unwrap our presents, we can be giddy, barely restraining our excitement for the coming day. At other times, we marvel at how quickly we have gone through this season. Is it Christmas-time already? Today – and this text in particular – provides us with a fitting pause then, inviting us to look back on our Advent journey, even while looking ahead to the celebration of Christmas Day.
Like the first week of Advent, this text contains an invitation to abandon our sinful ways and receive the hope that our sins will be forgiven (vs. 6-7). There is no greater invitation and no more daunting of a step – to let go of our ways to embrace God’s ways. As with the second week of Advent, Isaiah continues by reminding us that our peace with God is not built upon on our ability to climb up to God, but on the unwavering generosity of God’s word sent to us (vs. 8-11). God’s faithfulness is beyond our comprehension, yet somehow more certain than anything else we will encounter. In the third week of Advent, we paid attention to renewed possibility of joy found in the certainty of God’s compassionate, everlasting kindness and God’s continued promise to be with us. And now, just a couple days from Christmas, we recall once again Jesus’ other name: “Immanuel – God with us”. And this passage ends with creation bursting in joy, so that even the trees and the mountains celebrate as the curse of our sin is lifted from all that God has made (vs. 12-13). Without speaking directly of the coming Messiah, this passage has told walked us through the Advent story.
And yet, it is the first five verses of this passage that set the tone for this Advent season. All of the Advent themes – hope, peace, and joy – overflow from the lavish love of God. Listen to the first words: “Come, all you who are thirsty!” That’s us – people whose souls are parched, who don’t have it all together, who found ourselves wandering far from where we thought we’d be, and even further from where we imagine God to be. And to us, God extends hospitality simply because that’s who God is. God loves. No money is needed. No extraordinary feats of spiritual heroism. God invites us to come and receive at no cost to us. In Jesus Christ, God’s covenant promises are coming true. While we are still entangled in our sins, while we wonder if and how God could ever forgive us, while we long for justice and the day when all wrongs will be set right, God welcomes us, inviting us to feast with God, simply because God is faithful (vs. 1-5). God is faithful. Take hope, be at peace, and rejoice. In Jesus Christ, God loves us even now. That’s just who God is and that’s what God does.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus, that the light of your life may make known your lavish love to all you have made! Amen.