Today is Thanksgiving, a day when many gather around tables to celebrate family and to give thanks to God for the blessings of the past year. Yet it can be a difficult time for many, filled with unpleasant memories of past wrongs or painful reminders of isolation and loneliness. Holidays have a way of dredging up old feelings, no matter how much we anticipate the goodness of the day. Sometimes holidays are more than we can bear.
I know some people who ignore special occasions of all kinds—birthdays, weddings, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s. Hurt at some time in the past, they have convinced themselves that they are better off without the big hoopla of celebrations. They are essentially asleep to the possibilities of positive experiences with loved ones or even strangers. But cutting ourselves off from experiences and relationships is no way to live our lives. After all, this is real life.
Paul urges his friends in Rome, “Wake up!” Wake up to what? And why wake up now? These words call us to live in the light of Jesus’ teachings. And now is the time because we do not know exactly when salvation will come . . . because salvation is not something that we possess. Salvation is something that possesses us.
And, yes, being awake to this love and sharing this love with others means that we are putting our hearts on the line. Yet, there is salvation and power in this kind of vulnerability—the power of love to overcome all obstacles. It is the same power that quickens the coming of our Savior.
Jesus, as I break bread with loved ones or strangers today, awaken in me your divine love. Let me know that I am yours. Amen.
Advent is a season for turning our minds to the coming arrival of the Christ child. Isaiah looks forward to a future day when peace will reign in Jerusalem. All nations will come to hear the wisdom of the Lord. The psalmist rejoices in going up to Jerusalem in his own day. Jerusalem is a center of peace and a place for righteous judgment among the nations. Both readings inform Jewish expectations of a bright future with the arrival of the Messiah. Paul tells the Romans that part of receiving the reality of the Messiah is self-preparation. We should put aside immoral living and put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Matthew looks forward to the future return of the Son of God, which will happen at an unexpected time.
Read Isaiah 2:1-5. How do you look to the Bible’s stories, prayer, and the Holy Spirit to help you work toward God’s kingdom?
Read Psalm 122. What does it mean for you to pray for peace?
Read Romans 13:11-14. How do you stay awake to salvation’s nearness?
Read Matthew 24:36-44. Who in your life lives as though they expect the Son of Man? What does it look like to be ready to meet Christ?
Respond by posting a prayer.