Our reading describes the strength and fruitfulness of those whose “delight is in the law of the Lord.” I think of a group who visited my church in 2019 to share their experiences of volunteering at the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso, TX. The group included a lawyer who assessed asylum claims and three nuns. One sister is a nurse; another served in Chile for many years. Another had spent time in Guatemala with families who had experienced the gang murder of one of their children.
Our visitors did not describe grim detention centers; they spoke of faith-based oases of care and hope called Annunciation Houses. These centers are staffed by volunteers who are also “like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season.” Support from El Paso’s religious congregations blessed the Annunciation Houses with food, music, and clothes. As parents hoping for asylum washed clothes and filled out paperwork, children drew colorful murals of their villages back home. The families stayed only a short time before connecting with relatives in the U.S.
Several years ago, Pope Francis called for each faith community to sponsor a refugee family to help solve the worst refugee crisis since World War II, and people of all faiths have been responding to the needs of migrant families. But the number of people fleeing violence is overwhelming. The United States is just one of many nations whose resources are being stretched in response. The demand is much greater in some other nations. This crisis can feel overwhelming; but when we are tempted to turn away from the suffering of those fleeing violence and persecution, we can remember the God who promises that as we are rooted in God’s law we will yield fruit in its season.
Gracious God, help us to hear and to respond to the cries of those in need. Remind us when we feel overwhelmed that you are our strength. Amen.
Scripture tells us that in our lives, especially in our spiritual lives, we need to distinguish what is true from what is false. The psalmist admonishes us to follow the truth of God and flee wicked ideas. This week we read about Judas, who did not follow that advice—with disastrous results. In Acts, the apostles seek to replace Judas with a witness to Jesus who has not been led astray. In John’s Gospel, Jesus bemoans the loss of Judas and prays that his followers will cling to his words. First John reminds us that God’s words are trustworthy above all. They bear witness to the life that comes through Christ, whose legitimacy was confirmed by his ascension into heaven.
Read Acts 1:1-11. How do you experience the power of the Holy Spirit in your life? How does the Spirit guide you?
Read Psalm 1. Who are the people around you who exhibit the strength and fruitfulness of those described in this psalm?
Read 1 John 5:9-13. How have you come to know the testimony of God in your heart? How do you live differently as a result?
Read John 17:6-19. What helps you to sense God’s presence and protection in your life?
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.