The prophet Isaiah announces God’s deliverance of the remnant of the children of Israel from their captivity. This deliverance touches on all aspects of life—spiritual, physical, economic, and social. The prophet instructs the people to celebrate and to sing of the joy of their deliverance—their salvation.
Likewise, God’s gift of Jesus Christ to the world is to bring that complete deliverance to God’s people. What a joy it is to know that God sent Jesus—“Emmanuel, which means, God is with us” (Matt. 1:23)—and that Jesus has come to bring another form of deliverance: forgiveness of our sins. Now, “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Joel 2:32 and quoted by Luke in Acts 2:21).
In African culture, when someone is singing songs of joy it means something wonderful has happened in the life of that person. To sing songs of joy is to recognize what the Lord has done in our lives. This Advent season invites us to recognize God’s presence among us with a thankful heart, to celebrate and adore the presence of Jesus Christ, who is the source of our deliverance. During this season, let us meditate on what Christ has done and is doing in our lives and on what he will be able to do in the future. And in response, let us sing our songs of joy!
Thank you, God, for your deliverance and for teaching us to rejoice in you, even in difficult times. No matter what challenges we face, we know that you are always with us. Give us strength when we feel alone. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Reviewing the scripture passages for this week, the hymn title “Rejoice, Give Thanks and Sing” might come to mind. The writers of this week’s texts advise us to do all these things. At this time of year, these responses often seem to come naturally for many of us. The prophet Zephaniah exhorts his audience to sing aloud and rejoice. The prophet Isaiah calls on the people of Judah to “give thanks to the Lord.” In the letter to the Philippians, Paul advises his audience to “rejoice in the Lord always.” The tone of the Luke passage for this week is more somber; through the words of John the Baptist, Luke challenges his audience to maintain right relationships with God and humanity. Taken together, these passages provide a number of life lessons.
Read Zephaniah 3:14-20. Recall a time when you have experienced joy in the midst of trouble. Give thanks to God for your joy.
Read Isaiah 12:2-6. How does your trust in God enable you to overcome fear?
Read Philippians 4:4-7. Are you able to release your worries to God when you pray, or do you tend to hold on to the worry even after you have prayed about it?
Read Luke 3:7-18. Where in your life are you being nudged to do the right thing? How will you respond?
Respond by posting a prayer.