We are in the days of our flesh. We are alive, in bodies, experiencing the world. How awesome to contemplate the glory of God having days of flesh as well! Jesus experienced the world as a person with a body. He prayed to God as we do. He offered up prayers to a God that was separate from him yet was him. Jesus cried loudly and shed real tears. He suffered.
We worship a God who, in his days of flesh, did not become a high priest, did not live a life of worldly power and glory. Jesus was a son. He was a beloved child. He belonged to God. Whether it is our birth parents or found family, we all crave that parental love, that primal belonging. We often strive for earthly glory, to be recognized as successful; but at the end of the day we want to belong. We want arms to wrap us up, contain us, comfort us, and remind us of who we are and whose we are. Jesus extends this gift to us. He suffered and died so that when we are suffering, when we are dying, we can cry out to our God and trust that God calls us beloved children.
God saw Jesus’ suffering, heard his cries, and called his body on the cross divine. God invites us to come down from our pedestals and curl up into our identities as children of God.
God saw Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection as reverent submission, as divine obedience. When we live into our identity as beloved children of a suffering and life-giving God, being obedient and submitting can be claiming power in weakness and living as loving and loved creatures.
God, you hear our cries and see our beauty. You love us as your beloved children. Helps us to curl up in belonging and to embrace the power that comes with weakness. Be with us in our suffering and becoming. Amen.
We can maintain outward appearances for only so long. At some point what is in our hearts will come to the surface. God understands this, of course, which is the reason for the promise in Jeremiah. God promises a day when God’s law will no longer be an external standard that we are trying to follow but will be written on our hearts. In the aftermath of his sin with Bathsheba, David cries out in Psalm 51 for God’s forgiveness and a new heart. The New Testament readings begin to focus our minds toward the end of Jesus’ life. God’s transformative work comes at a cost to God through the death of his Son, who suffered in obedience but through his death was glorified.
Read Jeremiah 31:31-34. What are the covenant relationships in your life? How do you fulfill your part of the covenant with God?
Read Psalm 51:1-12. What are the things that clutter your heart, limiting your availability to fully love?
Read Hebrews 5:5-10. When have you offered your prayers “with loud cries and tears” as Jesus did? How does knowing Jesus’ vulnerability impact your life of faith?
Read John 12:20-33. How does this example of the grain of wheat help you to understand Jesus’ crucifixion and death?
Respond by posting a prayer.
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.