Life on Court Square

Category Archives: Advent Meditations

  1. We are redeemed

    Read Luke 1:67-80 His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,     because he has come to his people and redeemed them. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us     in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies     and from the hand of all who hate us— to show mercy to our ancestors     and to remember his holy covenant,     the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,     and to enable us to serve him without fear     in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;     for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation     through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God,     by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness     and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of…

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  2. God protects

    Read Matthew 2:12-15 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” Reflect The Gospel reading today strikes a new tone for the Christmas season by dramatically leading us away from the joy of the manager and gifts of the magi, to the dangers of life on Earth. Despite all of this, God carefully orchestrates Jesus’ earliest days. God’s steadfast protection and Joseph’s faithful obedience combine to ensure his safety in a world of peril. Even as potential disaster threatens Jesus, ancient prophecies come to life and guarantee Jesus’ mission. Isn’t that true of our own lives? God…

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  3. Led forth in peace

    Read Isaiah 55:6-12 Seek the Lord while he may be found;     call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways     and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,     and to our God, for he will freely pardon. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,     neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth,     so are my ways higher than your ways     and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow     come down from heaven, and do not return to it     without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish,     so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth:     It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire     and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy     and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills     will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field     will clap their hands. Reflect With this passage, Isaiah was preparing the Israelites for the coming of the our Lord, as his…

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  4. Stricken and afflicted

    Read Isaiah 53:4-7 Surely he took up our pain     and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God,     stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions,     he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him,     and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray,     each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him     the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted,     yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,     and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,     so he did not open his mouth. Reflect Have you ever listened to Handel’s Messiah in its entirety (i.e., beyond the famous Hallelujah Chorus)? If you download a copy of the words (the libretto) to follow along with as you listen, you will see that it is composed entirely of scriptural verses pointing us towards the Messiah, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Handel’s musical interpretation of verses 4-5 from today’s reading in Isaiah stresses the gravity of Christ’s physical and spiritual suffering for our sins. The music also lifts up the immense…

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  5. Our suffering servant

    Read Isaiah 53:2-3 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,     and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,     nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind,     a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces     he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Reflect Isaiah’s message in this text is very poignant and not the joyous angelic proclamation of good news and great joy we find in Luke 2:10. In verses 53:2-3, Isaiah solemnly reflects on the rejection of Christ and the sorrow, grief and isolation he must endure as he suffers for our sins. In Luke 2:32, baby Jesus is presented to Simeon the priest and he blesses Jesus and indicates, “He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel.” However, in the following verses, Simeon indicates to Mary “a sword will pierce your very soul,” foreshadowing Jesus’ crucifixion. Ultimately though, through God’s miraculous plan, the birth, life and resurrection of Jesus has provided us with the great and…

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  6. Bow down and rejoice

    Read Matthew 2:10-11 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Reflect We’re all familiar with the Christmas narrative in Matthew. But God’s Old Testament revelation of the time (Daniel 9:24), the place (Micah 5:2),the manner (Isaiah 7:14) of the birth of Jesus, provide a compelling backdrop to this passage from Matthew about the coming Messiah. The wise men were probably from Babylon or Persian, and possibly were an ancestral remnant of the Babylonian captivity. In any case, they must have had access to the scriptures and having discerned the foretold birth, scoured the nighttime sky for the prophesied celestial event (Numbers 24:7). When that occurred they trekked 500-800 miles to see the King of the Jews and our King of Kings! Note that the wise men bowed before him, worshiped him and presented him with traditional gifts worthy of a king. They knew they were part of something remarkable and were overjoyed to be a part of it! The fulfillment of these…

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  7. Looking for peace

    Read Isaiah 26:3-12 You will keep in perfect peace     those whose minds are steadfast,     because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever,     for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal. He humbles those who dwell on high,     he lays the lofty city low; he levels it to the ground     and casts it down to the dust. Feet trample it down—     the feet of the oppressed,     the footsteps of the poor. The path of the righteous is level;     you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth. Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws,     we wait for you; your name and renown     are the desire of our hearts. My soul yearns for you in the night;     in the morning my spirit longs for you. When your judgments come upon the earth,     the people of the world learn righteousness. But when grace is shown to the wicked,     they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil     and do not regard the majesty of the Lord. Lord, your hand is lifted high,     but they do not see it. Let them see your zeal for your people and be put to shame;     let the fire reserved for your enemies consume them. Lord, you establish…

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  8. Open your eyes to wonder

    Read John 1:9-14 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. Reflect The awe of it all! The Word made flesh, like some comet crashing into our world, revealed to those willing to receive. The magi in their observatories with centuries of archives in Babylon, saw it first. That great “star” in the East. Babylon at time, part of the Persian Empire, was home to the great observatory of the heavens, to those magi in cosmopolitan Babylon and to their Jewish scholar associates, there since the captivity. They must have been bursting with news…

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  9. In the beginning…

    Read John 1:1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. Reflect In the beginning, we heard those very same words in the very first sentence of the Bible in Genesis. And now John takes our mind to ponder once again that incredible week in history when the world began. Day 6, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…” This is The Word that John is now writing about. In the beginning was the Word. And The Word is God, Jesus, the fullness of the Trinity has come to live among us in His very creation. He came as a baby, just the same way we all arrive into the world. Yet He was fully God and fully man. And think about it, we were created in His likeness! In John 8:12, Jesus said “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will…

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  10. Jesus will return

    Read Micah 5:2-4 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,     though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me     one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old,     from ancient times.” Therefore Israel will be abandoned     until the time when she who is in labor bears a son, and the rest of his brothers return     to join the Israelites. He will stand and shepherd his flock     in the strength of the Lord,     in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness     will reach to the ends of the earth. Reflect It is not difficult to interpret the first part of Michah’s prophecy. Jesus was indeed born in Bethlehem. God used a Roman census to move Joseph and Mary from Nazareth to Bethlehem at the time of the expected Birth. Prophecy fulfilled, promise fulfilled. Period. But wait, there’s more here. Israel’s ruler, origins from eternity, Israel living in security, His greatness reaching to the ends of the earth, peace? None of this has at yet happened, so these words must indicate an as yet unfulfilled prophecy. We know that God keeps His promises,…

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