Heeding the Spirit during Advent
[Editors' note: This Advent season, we will be running a series of reflections on the Bread Blog from members of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC. The lectionary readings for this post are Isaiah 5:13-17; 24-25; John 3:22-36; Acts 10:34-43. Keep reading the Bread Blog for more Advent reflections each day.]
These scripture passages all offer powerful testimony to the importance of heeding God’s message and call to us. Even when hearing that call may be a challenge. The prophet Isaiah uses striking visuals and strong words to warn the Israelites of the consequences of rejecting God’s law. I wonder if the “lack of understanding” for which Isaiah admonishes is really more a lack of appreciation – for all God has given us and all that we take for granted?
In a world where so many have so little, and where I am confronted every day by the contrast of staggering wealth and staggering poverty, I must gratefully acknowledge all that I have been given. And yet, I must own up to the fact that so often, I still ask for more.
It seems hardly a day goes by without the media spotlighting some story of abuse – an abuse of power; an abuse of privilege; an abuse of trust. It makes me wonder, have I abused the gifts God has given me by ignoring my own potential or by not sharing and using my gifts to the benefit of others?
In John 3, John the Baptist encourages his disciples to follow Jesus as God’s true messenger and bearer of eternal life. But he also warns of the consequences of rejecting Jesus and, by extension, God’s message and plan for us. For me, this passage is a reminder that sometimes we must work to open ourselves up to hearing what the spirit of God is really trying to tell us, and perhaps to the most unlikely of messengers. Especially when things get busy, it seems easier to simply say, “not right now,” or, “I’ll get to that later.” Sometimes, we shut someone out entirely because we perceive that their values or way of living just don’t fit with ours.
When we fall into these patterns of thinking and acting, what new experiences and what new insights might we be shutting out as a result? Acts 10 reminds us of the ultimate forgiveness of sins that is offered to all by believing in Christ and following the just path. We are reminded through Jesus’ crucifixion that the just path is not the easiest path to take.
Prayer: Heavenly God, in this season of preparation and reflection, I ask for your help to better prepare myself to be a receptive and living witness to your call. Help me find new ways to use the gifts you have given me to your greater glory, always. Amen
Jennifer McIver is a member of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. Visit their website at www.nyapc.org.
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