â€œSee, I am going to send My messenger,and he will clear the way before Me. Then the Lord you seek will suddenly come to His temple, the Messenger of the covenant you desireâ€”see, He is coming,â€ says the Lord of Hosts. But who can endure the day of His coming? And who will be able to stand when He appears? For He will be like a refinerâ€™s fire and like cleansing lye. Â Â Â Â Malachi 3:1-2 (HCSB)
Lectionary texts, 2nd Sunday in Advent: Malachi 3:1-4, Luke 1:68-79, Philippians 1:3-11, Luke 3:1-6
One of my most vivid memories of nursing school is memorizing all the bones, muscles, and nerve innervations of the body. I thought my own brain was going to explode! The morning of the exam came and we were escorted into an auditorium with long tables. Bones were laid out and numbered. At each station a question was asked or a spot was marked and we were to identify the bone or tiny hole or what muscles moved the bone in a specific way. The bonus question was a patella (knee cap) and we were to identify it as either â€œrightâ€ or â€œleft.â€ Yes, it was a 50-50 guess since none of us were orthopedic surgeons! I tell you this story because of all the â€œstuffâ€ in my years that I was asked to memorize (like the Periodic Table!) and I have to say now that I know it was important for me to learn. I did use much of that information I learned for that exam throughout my nursing career. I never have used the Periodic Table in nursing.
The Lectionary texts this week are not easy passages that cause me to shout â€œHallelujah!â€ but they are important for me to meditate about.
Malachi warns me that the Messiah comes with cleansing. Now I may think how relaxing and refreshing a shower can be but if I have been out in the grime for an extended period time then the washing involves some strong soap and maybe even a scrub brush! A â€œrefiner’s fire and launderer’s soapâ€ does not sound gentle but indeed sounds thorough!
Philippians states a few promises: God will finish what He begins in me. Whether in trials or in joy God’s grace, His unconditional love is there. And with these two promises I can grow in maturity and live a pure and blameless life that is the fruit of my relationship with Jesus.
Luke has two passages this week. The first one is part of Zachariah’s song of praise to God and a prophecy over his newborn son, John, that he will be a prophet that preaches repentance. The second set of verses tells us that John fulfilled his father’s prophecy and like the prophets before him, he was ridiculed and eventually killed for his truth-telling.
I wonder how many sermons will be preached this next week encouraging all of us to â€œPrepare the Way.â€ And by that, as I read in these passages â€“ Repent! Submit to the Holy Spirit’s refiner’s fire and take the time to turn away from sin and walk in a way that brings us into step with our Savior, living a blameless life. Am I willing to take ridicule and step away from the pull of this world and go after the Way of Jesus Christ?
As we read these passages and join in the following worship songs, may we continue to ready ourselves for the coming of the Messiah. He came as a baby to save us the first time. He’s coming as our King and Savior to take us home forever. Are we ready?
Blessed Be the Name of the LORD (Matt Redman)/All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name (Edward Perronet, 1780) sung by Lindell Cooley