Advent Reflections from The Hill – Week 4, Tuesday

The
Peace of a Savior

Psalm
80:1-7

                 

This
text is a representation of the lifelong cries of God’s people and their need
for a Savior. Their aguish radiates as the only thing they truly long for is
the presence of God which seems lost.

 

Reflect on this
translation of Psalm 80:1-7 from The Voice:

 

Turn You ear toward us, Shepherd of Israel,

         You
who lead the children of Joseph like a flock.

You who sit enthroned above heavens winged
creatures, radiate

         Your
light!

In the presence of Ephraim, Benjamin, and
Manasseh,

         arouse
Your strength and power,

         and
save us!

Bring us back to You, God.

         Turn
the light of your face upon us so that we will be rescued                  from
this sea of darkness.

O Eternal God, Commander of heaven’s armies,

         How
long will You remain angry at the prayers of Your sons                  and
daughters?

You have given them tears for food;

         You
have given them an abundance of tears to drink.

You have made us a source of trouble for our
neighbors—

         Our
enemies laugh to each other behind our backs.

O God, Commander of heaven’s armies, bring us
back to You.

         Turn
the light of Your face upon us so that we will be rescued                  from
this sea of darkness.

                 

The
people cry out for God’s presence in their struggle, a cry that is answered in
the coming of Jesus. In Jesus we find peace because he is the presence of God.
He comes to bring Peace to both the world and to people's hearts. Without Christ
there is no peace in this world.

I
am reminded of another song, one of peace that we know very well, It Came
Upon the Midnight Clear.

 

“Peace
on the earth, good will to men…

 

…For lo! The days are hastening on,

          by
prophet bards foretold,

When with the ever circling years

          Comes
round the age of gold;

When peace shall over all the earth

          its ancient splendors fling,

And the whole world give back the song

         which
now the angels sing.”

 

In a world of aguish and in need of a savior, may we be the ones who
are Jesus, the presence of God in their lives as we live out a life of peace.

 

 

Rusty

Advent Reflections from The Hill – Week 3, Tuesday

Joy
to the World

Isaiah
12:2-6

Rusty

This text, is a song that
celebrates divine strength by offering praise, giving thanks, and proclaiming
divine deeds, likewise anticipates what is to come. As you read through with
joy…that day we are to look forward to the day
when Christ shall return, the day of salvation, the day that allows us to
experience and choose joy
now because of the peace we have in our Hope in Christ!

For time sake, a quick clarity for
defining Joy: Joy is not happiness. Happiness is a momentary feeling. You feel
happy when you have a good day or a good time with friends or family, etc. Joy
is much more deep and abiding. You can have joy even in the darkest moments. We
experience joy as we walk with the Lord.

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Advent Reflections from The Hill – Week 2, Tuesday

Breaking the Silence

2 Luke 1:68-79

Rusty Goodman

            These scriptures are known as The Benedictus,
Zechariah’s great hymn of prophecy, praise, and blessing. It has two distinct
parts (vv. 68-75) are praise and (vv. 76-79) prediction. Zechariah was a Jewish
priest known by most as the father of John the Baptist. While carrying out his
priestly duties the angel Gabriel announced to him that his wife Elizabeth (who
was past the years of child bearing) would bear a son named John, who will be
the forerunner of the coming Savior of Israel. Zechariah doubts and the angel
strikes him mute. He was not able to speak for at least nine months. After his
son is born at the baby’s circumcision Zechariah writes John on a tablet to
settle the family questioning Elizabeth’s naming him John. Then Zechariah’s
mouth is freed and he is able to speak. Some of the first words from Zechariah
were this hymn the Benedictus. The Benedictus like Advent celebrates a new
beginning to be brought by the incarnation.

I don’t know that any of us would
have acted much different than Zechariah if visited by Gabriel. I would like to
think I would not doubt but I bet it would be an overwhelming experience. I
would also hope to grow in my nine months of silence. I can’t quite imagine not
being able to speak or sing for nine months. I don’t want to experience nine
months of silence but it would be quite good for most of us just to be quiet a
while and listen. Then how great to hope that in breaking our silence we would
break forth in a song praising the very God who muted us then to prophesy how
He is to work in all of our lives.

In reading these scriptures you
will find what we are to be doing during this Advent season: we are to be
preparing the way for the coming Messiah. We are to give light to those in
darkness, to serve without fear, we are to deliver knowledge about salvation
and forgiveness, and by God’s tender mercy follow in the way of peace. We are
to be a forerunner to the coming Messiah. As a forerunner we are also like it
was foretold about John the Baptist and as he did to prepare the way, to
baptize, share in people’s lives by loving them, to bring God’s love and
justice to the community that surrounds us. May our lives reverberate the
message of the Benedictus as we ruminate on its words in this Advent season.

 

Luke 1:   74 that we…might serve Him without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days…78 By the tender mercy
of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, 79 to give light to those
who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way
of peace.

Advent Reflections from The Hill – Week 1, Tuesday

Expectation, anticipation, preparation

Psalm
25:1-10

Rusty Goodman

Psalm 25 is a psalm of lament (a cry or expression of
sorrow, hurt, frustration or grief). So as you read allow verses 1-3 to be like
your Call to Worship/Prayer of Confession
if you will. Lift up your life to Him. Follow the
psalmist’s example and express your heart to God. Be honest about your
frustration, hurt, sorrow… 

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Jesus invites people into his life and his way. He takes what is and points to the new way of the Kingdom of God.  Come see what this journey is all about!

One way to think about the mission of Jesus - He calls into question the way things are and points to the way things may be in the Kingdom of God. 

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