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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Advent, Day 7

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JOURNEY to the MANGER: Advent 2010

Isaiah 4:2-6
Dean Borgman

Here in this first week of Advent, we together prepare our hearts for God’s great Incarnation, the Word made flesh. We’re reminded of our great distance from our Lord’s ideal. The world and its cultures, the church and we Christians individually (like the ancient Israelites) have departed or at least drifted from God’s intentions. As a result, we stagger under God’s discipline as described in Isaiah’s opening verses.

Today’s image or metaphor is that of a glorious branch (a green sprout in Isaiah 11:1). This branch is pictured as a protective and glorious canopy covering our weakness, our limitations and our fears. The branch stands in contrast to this world’s grand, proud cedars of Lebanon (2:13a) and dry oaks of Bashan (1:29 and 2:13b). The arrogant leaders and powers of this world will be cut down and burnt. Our protection is under the royal branch described in such lovely terms: a branch “beautiful and glorious,” fruit “proud and glorious,” “shelter, bright and shining” and protection under a “pavilion... shade from the heat... refuge from the storm.”

Here, early in Advent, we focus on Christ’s second coming. Yet, even as we cry, “Maranatha,” we can, until Christ comes, receive hope and encouragement in our struggles. Often the Kingdom seems not to be winning, and we, falling short in our mission. Today God wants to encourage us with the hope of his final plans and the power of his present protective cover.

We pray for one another in the words of Psalm 20:
May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble, the name of the God of Jacob defend you; grant you your heart’s desire and prosper all your plans.
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

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