Facing God’s Presence

john muir wilderness signage

Year C Advent 2 –Malachi 3:1-4; Luke 1:68-79; Philippians 1:3-11; Luke 3:1-6

Malachi illustrates fervent praying. During oppression and injustice, our prayers are red hot and on fire. But the promised answer to those prayers are not always what we are expecting. The messenger warns God’s presence will first be faced by his Covenant people – not their oppressors.

Today’s canticle sung from Luke celebrates the fulfilment of Malachi’s promise. The child “called the prophet of the Most High” (Luke 1:76) was to give God’s people knowledge of their salvation – AND forgiveness of sins. That means we are in need of refinement, purging, and cleansing. We must face God’s presence before we expect God to present himself to our oppressors. 

We want Christ to come in judgment of our oppressors – but Christ wants to come so that God’s children can be cleansed. Church leaders labour “so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless” (Philippians 1:10).

In this season of Advent, the words of Luke 3:4b, 5, and 6 are often sung in a spirit of joy. We fail to see it as a warning. Not a warning for adversaries – a warning for God’s people.

As we wait for Christ to come, let us not be found like God’s people at the first Advent. They were not looking for Christ to heal them; they were looking for Christ to avenge them.

What are you looking for in Christ this Advent? Are you focusing on your problems and waiting for God to remove them? Or you, as the prophets encourage, concentrating on preparing yourself to face God’s presence?

Published by St Johns Papatoetoe

Presbyterian Church, Hunters Corner, Papatoetoe, Auckland, New Zealand belonging to Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ).

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