Day 18 — Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains might quake at your presence—
as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
and that the nations might tremble at your presence!
When you did awesome things that we did not look for,
you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
From of old no one has heard
or perceived by the ear,
no eye has seen a God besides you,
who acts for those who wait for him.
You meet him who joyfully works righteousness,
those who remember you in your ways.
Behold, you were angry, and we sinned;
in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved?
We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf,
and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
There is no one who calls upon your name,
who rouses himself to take hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us,
and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.

But now, O LORD, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Be not so terribly angry, O LORD,
and remember not iniquity forever.
Behold, please look, we are all your people.
Isaiah 64:1–9

How often have I cast my gaze too resolutely forward to Christmas during these four weeks of Advent. Too eagerly do I await the Incarnation. Too comfortably do I prepare for the Season of Seasons. 

Decorate the tree. Make sure the lights are properly spaced.

Wrap the gifts. Don’t let the grandchildren see.

Greet the bell-ringer. Smile as a fiver falls into the red kettle. 

Christmas is coming, but Advent is here. Now. The Great Promise-Fulfilled looms. But the Time of Preparation is today. I long for the comfort of the Silent Night of the shepherds tending their flocks and the Announcing Angels and the star guiding Those of Good Will to the crib for some Peace on Earth. 

But before this comes the honest speech that a heart yearning for His forgiveness requires. Comfort has its place, but today’s words from Isaiah are hard-edged: Rend. Fire. Boil. Adversaries. Quake. Angry. Sinned. Unclean. Polluted. Hidden.

Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive others. As unworthy as we are, be merciful Oh Source of Mercy. Then shall we come before You, our mouths filled with joyful Hosannas. 

Dr. Richard Ray is a professor of kinesiology and provost emeritus at Hope College.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Day 17 — Tuesday, December 14, 2021

In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
Luke 1:39–45

Even when God whispers His sacred voice into our spiritual ears, we can often doubt his plans and purposes for us. We often focus on frailties, shortcomings and deeply ingrained insecurities. Perhaps Mary was feeling these things during this time. Doubting the awesome purpose she had been called to fulfill. Not only would she have a divine virgin birth, but that she would birth the eternal Savior of the world.

In those moments of doubt, when we know the Godly plans for us (which often do not align to human and secular expectations and reasonings), God connects us with His people. In today’s passage, Elizabeth speaks a confirming word — Mary, you are blessed; the fruit of your womb is blessed. When these words were spoken, maybe they acted to erase some of the doubt Mary may have been feeling. With these words of divine confirmation, perhaps Mary recognized that God’s plan for her would be enacted via His power in and onto her life.

Let us pray to remind ourselves that God’s plan and purposes for our lives are possible through His power that conquers every frailty and weakness that we humbly submit to Him. Let us give thanks for the “Elizabeths” that speak Godly confirmations to us, helping us realize that God has chosen us for His awesome purpose and plans.

Dr. Gerald Griffin is the interim provost at Hope College.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Day 16 — Monday, December 13, 2021

Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”

When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Hebrews 10:5–10

In today’s passage, we’re reminded of the New Covenant that came about through Christ’s life, death and resurrection. Christ fulfilled the Old Covenant and its system of priests, burnt offerings and animal sacrifices by atoning for our sins and freeing us to live no longer under the law but under God’s grace. I know I need this reminder often and perhaps especially during this Advent time of waiting. 

At the beginning of our passage, the Hebrews writer references Psalm 40:6–8, but instead of ascribing the words to David, the original psalmist, the Hebrews writer ascribes them to Christ. 

As an English education professor at Hope, I love studying these sorts of rhetorical moves and how they point to the many examples of foreshadowing in the Old Testament. Finding these and other literary devices in Scripture adds to my delight in reading God’s living Word and deepens my understanding of God and His plan for His people. It’s one of the reasons that I think everyone should take literature classes!

David wrote Psalm 40 during a time when God’s people, the Israelites, were called to show faithful obedience within the Old Covenant, a sacrificial system that required external atonement for sins. Even within this system, David reflects that desiring to do God’s will needs to come first.

When we consider these same words as spoken by Christ, the idea of desiring God’s will becomes even richer to us. That Jesus was willing to become the one and only sacrifice was possible only because of the wholehearted obedience that he showed to God’s will throughout the entirety of his life, from his birth to his death on the cross. Because of this obedience, Christ paid for all of our sins and allowed us to be sanctified. Because of this obedience, David’s prayer to God later on in Psalm 40: “Do not withhold your mercy from me Lord, may your love and faithfulness always protect me” (v. 11–12) is no longer a request but a certainty because of our membership in the New Covenant.

During this Advent season, may we find comfort in Christ’s wholehearted obedience to God’s will. May we follow Christ’s example in orienting our own lives to God’s will and live out and into the New Covenant with freedom, grace and joy.

Dr. Deborah Van Duinen is an associate professor of education at Hope College.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Day 15 — Sunday, December 12, 2021

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
you who lead Joseph like a flock.
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh,
stir up your might
and come to save us!
Restore us, O God;
let your face shine, that we may be saved!
O LORD God of hosts,
how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?
You have fed them with the bread of tears
and given them tears to drink in full measure.
You make us an object of contention for our neighbors,
and our enemies laugh among themselves.
Restore us, O God of hosts;
let your face shine, that we may be saved!
Psalm 80:1–7

Where is our God of comfort? In whom do we seek repose? In today’s reading, we hear of an angry God, refusing to answer the prayers of the people and causing them to “drink tears by the bowlful.”

Often in life, we feel God is angry with us as tragedy descends. We pray and our prayers are not answered. We try to live a holy life and find one roadblock after another thrown in front of us. And we ask ourselves, where is God now? Why are we suffering? Where is our God of comfort?

We are a people of quick answers, and getting no answer, no matter what the speed, is unthinkable! So when the world does not make sense to us, we want God to provide us with an answer, and preferably sooner rather than later. What is hard is developing the patience to wait for an answer and acknowledging that one may not come or that we may not be able to comprehend the answer we receive. We are humans, we are broken, and we are limited in what we understand. 

The psalmist here is suffering but is not seeking a quick answer. He is simply making a plea to God to “make your face shine upon us.” There are no requests for answers or even questioning why this suffering is happening. He simply acknowledges in the depths of his pain his desire to feel the embrace of God, to bask in God’s light.

As we journey forward in the Advent season, we cannot understand, and do not need to understand, all that happens. Like Mary, traveling while ready to give birth to a child whose presence is beyond her understanding, we can simply seek God’s presence.

Derek Emerson is the director of events, conferences and the Haworth Hotel at Hope College.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Day 14 — Saturday, December 11, 2021

And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
Luke 1:46–55

Mary’s words of praise were uttered in the reign of Augustus Caesar (r. 27 BCE–14 CE), when she was pregnant with the Lord Jesus. All around her was evidence of Roman power — the soldiers occupying Palestine, the decree that would send her and Joseph to Bethlehem, the taxes that had to be paid to Rome. 

Virgil (70–19 BCE) had praised Augustus Caesar as “son of a god, who will renew a golden age in Latium” in his great epic, The Aeneid (6.1049–50). Yet Mary carried in her womb another king, who was and is the true Son of God. 

Augustus defeated Marc Antony and Cleopatra and ended the Roman civil wars. Mary’s God scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts and brought down the mighty from their thrones. Augustus created the principate, subtly changing the defunct Roman republic into an empire. Mary’s God sent the rich away empty and filled the hungry with good things. 

Mary’s words exuded a confidence and joy that defied the “reality” in which she lived. Is not this a picture of the two-fold reality in which God’s people have lived throughout the ages? Each age has its own Augustus and manifestations of Augustan might, but the eternal God who came to his people in Mary’s womb continues to bring down the mighty from their thrones, to scatter the proud in the thoughts of their hearts, and to fill the hungry with good things. 

Mary’s song of praise offers comfort indeed — but not for the proud and mighty and rich whose king is Augustus, whom (if we are honest) God’s people often envy and emulate consciously or subconsciously. The comfort is for the hungry, who look for a greater kingdom than the Augustan empire.

Dr. Gloria Tseng is an associate professor of history at Hope College.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Day 13 — Friday, December 10, 2021

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.
Therefore he shall give them up until the time
when she who is in labor has given birth;
then the rest of his brothers shall return
to the people of Israel.
And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD,
in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth.
And he shall be their peace.
Micah 5:2-5a

Just before our passage today begins, Micah exhorts Israel to muster her troops, warning that “many nations are assembled against you” and again that “siege is laid against us.” I suspect it was just as tempting in Micah’s time as it is now to look out at these enemy forces and see in them our deepest danger. 

But how did Israel get into its current mess?  Micah and indeed all of the prophets pull no punches here: “All this for the transgression of Jacob and for the sins of the house of Israel” (Micah 1:5). At this point in Israel’s story, we see that her looming captivity is freely chosen. She is no longer in Egypt. With no foreign coercion, she has bowed down to false gods. (To feel better about our contemporary political regimes, read the story of King Ahab who reigned when Micah was prophesying.) And so we understand that the evil from without flows from a brokenness within.

Into this bleak vision, Micah speaks a word of comfort. A ruler is coming, one whose advent is “from of old.” And not only will He put to right all of the ills of this world so that Israel may “dwell secure,” He promises to be their peace (Micah 5:5). This is a crucial phrase.

This side of heaven, our enemies from without may still threaten, and indeed harm. From the earliest days, followers of the Ruler from of old who was born in “little” Bethlehem have suffered — often precisely because they follow Him. But while we still wait for Him to come, to “stand and shepherd” in these ailing places here below, we do well to remember that Jesus Christ has promised peace now: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).

Micah foresaw this, however dimly, in describing the Messiah Himself as our peace. We typically think of peace as an inner state characterized by an absence of anxiousness, hurry or restlessness. But peace, Micah shows us, is actually not an absence: it is a presence. The presence of the true ruler whom we now know we can follow each day, whatever our outer circumstances.

Dr. Joshua Kraut is an assistant professor of French at Hope College.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Day 12 — Thursday, December 9, 2021

He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”

As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people.
Luke 3:7–18

Recently I read a scripture that said God was “easy to please,” and deep down I doubted it. I’m sure if I asked 100 people to describe Him, “easy to please” would not make the top 10 list. But as I was reading Luke 3:7–18, it struck me that God is easy to please. God’s not asking us to run through crazy hoops to please Him. I then realized that we are the ones who make seeking Him and pleasing Him hard. Want proof?

Luke 3:7–18 begins with John the Baptist fussing at the half-hearted people who have come to him to get baptized, telling them in verse 8, “Therefore, bear fruits worthy of repentance.” Then John tells them what will happen if they do not truly repent. All of a sudden, the fear of consequences kicked in and “So the people asked him, saying, ‘What shall we do then?’” (v. 10). The answer points out how simple and easy to please God truly is. He doesn’t tell them to fast and pray for 21 days or become a monk or witness to the very people who have done them wrong. No, God tells each group of people to do the very thing they should have been doing all along.

To the general masses: Be generous with what you have, not with what you do not have. “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise” (v. 11).

To the tax collectors: Don’t cheat any more people. “Collect no more than what is appointed for you” (v. 13). There isn’t even a mention of restitution.

To the soldiers: Don’t continue to abuse your power. “Do not intimidate anyone (shake them down) or accuse falsely and be content with your wages” (v. 14).

What did God ask that these people could not do? His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30).

So why so often do we think God is hard to please? Why do we act like pleasing Him is a big sacrifice? Why do we act like we don’t already know what to do when it’s the little things from which God wants us to turn? Turn from evil and do good (Psalm 34:14).

Could it possibly be that God is easy to please, but we simply do not want to please Him? Could it be that we want to continue in our sinful ways? Are we rationalizing to keep from doing right? Selah! Pause and think about that.

Dr. Vicki-Lynn Holmes is an associate professor of mathematics and education at Hope College.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Day 11 — Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4–7

“… but in everything… ” and “… do not be anxious about anything… ” Beautiful words that are easy to hear when we are not in the middle of the death of a child or of a parent. These admonitions seem effortless when we are not amidst social strife that separates friend from friend and breaks apart families, or facing uncertainty at work that makes people question their perceived value and security. Spurning anxiousness happens naturally absent loss of employment that leaves families in economic stress that pushes them to the brink. 

The last two years have been filled with anxiety-inducing experiences at personal and corporate levels. The wounds for many are deep and the losses seem insurmountable. The wounds of the last few years, for me personally, are deep. The experiences of the recent past have left figurative and literal scars. My heart will never be the same. The losses were large and the lessons came at steep prices. 

Yet our good God, a Father who gives perfect gifts to us, His children, promises that our tears are not wasted (Psalm 56:8). The cost has a perfect gift for those who receive it. We can live in hope and without anxiousness. We can live in peace that surpasses circumstances and understanding (Ephesians 3:20–21). Christ came to earth, lived, taught, died and rose to conquer the power of anxiety, hopelessness, despair and grief. 

We can rejoice because the truth will win and has already won. We take comfort in the midst of the storms of life knowing that the peace of God can be ours, as a salve on our wounds and a hedge of protection around our hearts. 

This peace is available even as the chaos rages when we rejoice through our tears, knowing our God is good. We find this peace when we turn to God, talk to God, dwell in our Father’s presence, telling Him what fills our hearts. When we still ourselves with God and spill out all the tears, the hurts, the fears, the betrayals, the brokenness, He promises we will find peace.

Just as Jesus prepared to do His Father’s will by often stealing away to be in His Father’s presence (Mark 1:35; Luke 4:42; Mark 6:46; Luke 6:12; Luke 9:18, 28; Matthew 26:36–45; Mark 14:32–41; Luke 22:39–46), we prepare for the realities of living in this fallen world by being with Him, talking with Him, listening to and meditating on His Word (Hebrews 4:12; Proverbs 30:5–6; John 8:31–32).

The storm may rage, but as Jesus pulled Peter out of the water when his hope faltered, we will not drown (Matthew 14:22–33). He will grab our hands and give us peace in all situations when we turn to Him. In His strength and truth, we can display this hope… this peace… to others as we walk with Him.

The Lord is at hand! Peace on earth! Rejoice! 

Dr. Virginia Beard is an associate professor of political science at Hope College.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Day 10 — Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge — even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you — so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:3–9

When I first started teaching at Hope, I didn’t have a reason to stop working at the end of the day. There was so much to do and absorb. It was exhilarating, yet exhausting. The pace started to feel normal, and I believed I could handle it alone. Nowhere in that flow left room for God’s comfort and grace. 

But then I became a mom, and my workflow was upended. There was no explaining to an infant that I had to write one more email before his bottle. Despite my desire, work had to be finished for the day. However, the intentional decision to pause and yield to my child was exactly what I needed. I began to look forward to this outside force telling me to stop. It showed me that the path was unsustainable and not God’s desire.

Thank you God “… that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge” (v. 5). Read that again. In HIM. Not me. Not you. We cannot be the provider of our sufficiency. 

We know that grace and peace are given, but in order to adequately receive it, we usually forget to yield to God. One definition of “yield” is to submit or surrender to another. It’s one thing to stop, but when we stop and then yield to God, we can be comforted and enriched by Him. If we fail to yield, we are saying that we don’t want to fully let go of the reins, that we still want some control. 

“Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed” (v. 7). Notice that the waiting isn’t the end. We are to be expectant as we wait, to anticipate and actively yield to God. We will often ask for grace or express our discomfort. But then we fail to move into the next step, which is to yield. Yielding isn’t passive, it’s actively surrendering so that God can “…sustain you to the end” (v. 9).  


Impress upon my heart, Lord, the desire to yield to your comfort. Help me to admit that I don’t have the ability to be my own savior, that being self-sufficient is not your desire for me. Help me to yield to Your love today, to be enriched through Your grace and comfort. Amen. 

Lindsey Hanson is an assistant professor of dance at Hope College.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Day 9 — Monday, December 6, 2021

Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion;
shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter of Jerusalem!
The LORD has taken away the judgments against you;
he has cleared away your enemies.
The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst;
you shall never again fear evil.
On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
“Fear not, O Zion;
let not your hands grow weak.
The LORD your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
I will gather those of you who mourn for the festival,
so that you will no longer suffer reproach.
Behold, at that time I will deal
with all your oppressors.
And I will save the lame
and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
and renown in all the earth.
At that time I will bring you in,
at the time when I gather you together;
for I will make you renowned and praised
among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
before your eyes,” says the LORD.
Zephaniah 3:14–20

My son and I find ourselves at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital about once a month. He’s 14 and has a serious autoimmune disease. We seek medical answers and physical relief, but God has been working on our hearts along the way, too. 

One day an unexpected gift unfolded before us in the cafeteria. Among the hubbub of the next Starbucks order and rushed lunchtime exchanges, our eyes were drawn to a scene in the far corner of the room. A father and son were also waiting, maybe there to seek answers and relief as well. We watched as the father leaned over his young son whose body, neck and head were supported by a specialized wheelchair. His son responded and strained to lean in toward his father. The smiling father gently stroked the boy’s hair and then we realized he was tenderly singing to his boy. He was singing over him. One moment we were in our own hard spot and the next we were undone by this intimacy and love.    

In today’s passage, Zephaniah delivers some encouraging words and reminders of God’s intimate love. The words may have been especially sweet — an unexpected gift for the people at the time — since such harsh warning preceded them. They had become spiritually stagnant, complacent, indifferent about God and pursuing sin in every possible way, so the first two and a half chapters are a burning rebuke. But then Zephaniah delivers the promise that we all need:  God will be in their midst. God will restore them. And then in amazing grace, God will even sing over them, rejoicing. He is a loving father and his way is to come to us in our brokenness.  

In this time of Advent, in this time of waiting, lean in toward the Father. He is already leaning in over you, waiting to quiet you with his love and singing. The message of Advent and the message of God is always one of hope and restoration. So on this day, ponder these comforts:  God himself is in your midst. He loves you, he delights in you, and he is singing over you.

Jill Nelson is the chaplain of small groups.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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