Godly work often requires vision beyond the present moment. When God commands the Israelites to rebuild the Temple, some lack motivation. They can remember what the Temple looked like before it was destroyed, and they cannot envision clearly the splendor of the new Temple. Through the prophet Haggai, God tells them to stay strong, to take courage, and to remember that their God is with them. The work of rebuilding the Temple, with all the stops and starts, will take them twenty years; but in the end they will complete it.
In the country of South Africa, during the days of apartheid, many dedicated their lives to ending the evils of the segregating regime. Before Nelson Mandela became the first black president and the first democratically elected president, he spent twenty-seven years in prison. Eighteen of those years he spent on Robben Island. While on the Island, he and many of the other political prisoners continued to teach one another to keep their minds active. They knew it would take dedication to remain strong for the work before them.
As Christians, we commit our life to following the ways of Jesus. We commit to advocating for the poor and the oppressed and to living for a day when divisions among God’s children no longer exist. The more faithfully we carry out this work, the more likely we are to face resistance. We can heed Haggai’s message to the Israelites: God calls us to be strong, to take courage, and to remember that God is with us.
Loving God, empower us for the living of these days. Grow within us the strength and courage to continue to work toward a life on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.
Following the return from exile to Babylon, the people of God have much work to do to restore the city of Jerusalem. Haggai is one of the prophets sent by God to encourage them. God promises future material blessings for the people and a time of peace. The psalmist praises God and declares that future generations will pass on the stories of God’s wonderful works. In Second Thessalonians, Paul addresses a group that is disturbed because they think they have missed the return of Christ. He assures them that they have not missed the time and admonishes them to persevere in their faith. In Luke, Jesus is asked about marriage in the resurrection, but he focuses on God as the God of the living.
Read Haggai 1:15b–2:9. When have you had to rely on God’s promises for the future? How did your faith in God’s provision keep you focused on the long-term goal?
Read Psalm 145:1-5, 17-21. How do you share God’s majesty and justice with the next generations?
Read 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17. How do you live a disciplined life, trusting in the Lord whether or not the end is near?
Read Luke 20:27-38. How can you be open to the ways God will answer your questions in unexpected ways?
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This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.