“Today is the day God brings good news to the poor, proclaims release to the captives, gives sight to the blind, and sets the oppressed free. And so shall we.”* These are the concluding words of the companion litany to The United Methodist Church's Social Creed.
These words come on the heels of affirmations of God’s concern and desire for the well-being of all of humanity—the rich, the poor, workers, families, nations. The creed, which is meant to be continually available to individual believers and emphasized regularly in every local church in my denomination, is a potent reminder that the transformation of the human heart is not an end in itself. Indeed, the complete salvation that is found in Jesus Christ involves much more than a renewal of the human intent, attitude, and disposition.
As John Wesley hinted, holiness of heart and the holiness of life that plays itself out in renewed behavior, conduct, and visibility, are intimately linked. The latter comes in reflective response to God’s incredible grace. It plays itself out in transformative practices and, in turn, fuels ongoing growth in the likeness of Christ. As God continues to invite us to join in God’s transformative work through today’s reading, God reminds us that those who join God through Christ—the Oone who saves completely—are themselves set free and empowered to carry out this mission both efficiently and effectively.
*The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church–2016. Copyright © 2016 by The United Methodist Publishing House, Nashville, TN.
Here I am, Lord. Use me to your glory. Amen.
Sometimes we can look back and see why challenging things happened to us, but this is not always the case. Job never fully understood his story but finally submitted his life to God in humility. In Job’s case, God restored with abundance. The psalmist also rejoices that although the righteous may suffer, God brings ultimate restoration. The reading from Hebrews continues celebrating Christ’s role as the compassionate high priest. Unlike human high priests, who serve only for a time, Christ remains our priest forever. A man without sight in Jericho knows of Jesus’ compassion and cries out for it, despite attempts to silence him. He asks Jesus for mercy, physical healing in his case, and Jesus grants his request because the man has displayed great faith.
Read Job 42:1-6, 10-17. What are your happy and unhappy endings? How do you acknowledge both?
Read Psalm 34:1-8, 19-22. How does God deliver you from your fears? Recall a recent experience of this.
Read Hebrews 7:23-28. What distinction do you draw between sacrifice and offering?
Read Mark 10:46-52. How do you respond to Jesus’ question, “What do you want me to do for you?”
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.