Advent Reflection #4, 2016

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Psalm 146:5-10
Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God,
who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free; the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the LORD!

The Psalms are full of cries or judgment and justice. Often written from “below” themselves, they envision the Lord reaching down and lifting up those who have been brought low. The Psalmist reminds hearers/readers that God keeps justice forever, executes justice for the oppressed, feeds the hungry, watches over strangers, and upholds orphans and widows. These are not singular, isolated statements about God. Rather, the Psalms – and all of Scripture, really – are full of such strong descriptors about God. God, who is the creator of all things, cares about all things. In particular, God cares for those who are down and out, desperately in need of care, provision, and justice. God cares for these especially, and in doing so, will bring judgement upon note wicked as well, bringing them to ruin. Remember, for most, God’s judgement is a good and welcome thing – it is only the wicked who need fear God’s judgement. You see, though it might seem like God is not moving, has not heard, or has possibly forgotten the cries for justice uttered by creation, God has heard, is moving, and has not forgotten. God will administer justice through judgment, set things to rights, and God will reign forever!

Does your understanding of God fit with this vision of God offered by the Psalmist? If you want to dig deeper, read other Psalms, read the Prophets, read the Gospels, read Paul, and read Revelation. In doing so, you will recognize the “red thread” running throughout all of Scripture that God, the creator of all things, loves all things, but especially those that are lost, suffering, overlooked, downtrodden, and in need of help, provision, and justice. This is NOT a negative statement for those privileged enough to be without want or provision, those who are not downtrodden or suffering. We simply must get this. God is not an either-or God, but rather an both-and God. God is a God of the saved and the lost. Statements of God’s extreme care and commitment to the poor and the lost are not negative statements of about the rich or at least financially stable or those that are saved. Such words are simply a way of emphasizing that God desperately loves those who have such visible needs. Does your understanding of God fit with this? Hopefully. If so, does your faith look like this? Does your faith move you to care for the “least of these,” those without a voice, those that are abused, abandoned, neglected, poor, and downtrodden? Do you bend down and help others up they way the Lord has bent down and helped you up? Advent is a perfect time to reflect upon this, for Advent is all about preparing for the ultimate bending down or lowering of God, for the sake of creation that was so desperately in need of rescue.

Our God has bowed down. Will you?

Today as you pray, pray that God would reveal someone you can be a blessing to. In a big or a small way, bow down into someone else’s life and be a blessing to them. Never underestimate or forget the fact that God desires to bless others through you and me. If we are God’s hands and feet. Pray that God would reveal who you might touch, embrace, and lend a hand to.

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