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Waiting with Zephaniah

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[Editor's note: This Advent season, we will be running a series of reflections on the Bread Blog from the San Francisco Theological Seminary. The reading for this post is Zephaniah 3:14-20. Keep reading Bread Blog for more Advent reflections.]        

By Rev. Elizabeth McCord

Being a good SFTS grad and having been assigned this Zephaniah passage for my Advent devotional, I began with exegesis. I read the three chapters of this minor prophet for its literary framework. I reviewed commentaries to examine its historical context from the early days of King Josiah's reign. I considered my own response, the connection—or lack of connection—I felt as a modern reader of this ancient text.

And then I waited. My Bible lay open on my desk for nearly a week and a half, so that in between emails or meetings, I would stop for a moment and read verses 14 through 20, hoping for some inspiration. But after a while, as I was busy waiting for inspiration, I found that I had stopped reading the passage. Instead, I found myself praying it.

I thought of friends who after months of unemployment are still looking for work, and I prayed, "Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands grow weak."

I thought of my hopes and dreams for our seminary community, and I prayed, "Your God is in your midst ... God will rejoice over you with gladness, God will renew you in love ..."

I thought of loved ones with debilitating diseases, and I prayed, "And I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth."

God is busy, even when we are bored. God is moving, even when we are just going through the motions. While we may be waiting in Advent for the next thing that God is birthing, our waiting is not meaningless. God is present both in the now and the not yet. During Advent, while we wait for the time when God will "exult over us with loud singing," we can still incline our ear and listen for the melody of God's quiet humming in this very moment.

Rev. Elizabeth McCord is San Francisco Theological Seminary's director of enrollment.


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