Monday: Psalm 90, 92; Song of Songs 1, 2; Luke 22.1-38

From: Brittany Yeager

Tomorrow is Christmas, making today the final day of Advent. It seems fitting, then, that we begin reading through Song of Songs—a beautiful reminder and collection of poetry celebrating the anticipation and mutual joy of the most sacred of unions: the bride and the bridegroom.

In light of the closing of the Advent season, I was particularly struck by verses 5 and 6 of Song of Songs chapter 1. The bride describes herself to her friends as weathered, darkened, time-softened, yet elegant (taken from The Message translation). As she reflects on the bridegroom’s handsomeness, she is very aware of her homeliness—a result, she says, of her relentless work in her family’s fields. And yet, her bridegroom describes her as the loveliest of all women. And we needn’t read much further to hear all the ways and reasons he believes this to be so.

And so here we are, a waiting people, waiting on our bridegroom to come. Perhaps you, too, come to this Christmas season weathered by the rush, darkened by the injustice, time-softened by familiarity. Perhaps you feel the need to express, or rather hide, all the ways you are unworthy of this lavish God-with-us affection that is ushered in by Emmanuel.

May we have the faith to lift our weathered, yet image-bearing faces to the manger this blessed Christmas, aware that Christ has come and will come again, calling us his most treasured and loveliest of creations. For that is who we truly are.

Jon, Ellie, and I are looking forward to celebrating our first Christmas Eve with Church of the Cross this year. We hope to see those of you still around tonight as we usher in the Christmas season together!

Friday: Psalm 84, 86; Isaiah 64; Luke 10.1-25

From: Leah Knowles

When I was young and being raised in the Baptist tradition, I was taught about the second coming of Christ. Undoubtedly stemming from a fear of dying, but also from the stubborn confidence of children, I declared to my mother that Jesus would return during my lifetime. My love of the Left Behind series probably had something to do with it too. I would watch the sky out my bedroom window, determined to be the rare person who was ready to see our savior coming on the clouds.

Something deep down in me still expects this cinematic, triumphant, magical vision to appear and make things better. In this world full of anguish and injustice, I’ve been tempted by deism and grown skeptical that God will “render the heavens and come down… and cause the nations to quake before him.” Like this fickle passage in Isaiah, life on earth seems to come down to a constant back and forth between pain and joy, hope and despair, sin and redemption.

And yet Christ did come. He did render the heavens in the ultimate act of selfless love. He also comes to us in less dramatic ways—in answered prayers which take us by surprise and for which gratitude always seems delayed.

Expect him to come and reveal his power to you this Advent. And be grateful when he does.

I am thriving in a little harbor town on the North Shore with Ryan, Aurelia, Asher, and Hermes the pug.

Thursday: Psalm 81, 84; Isaiah 63; Luke 9.51-end

Variations on a theme of Triumphal Entry
By Isaiah 63 and Luke 19 with observations from Sarah Baker

The Lord comes in majesty…of different sorts:
Isaiah: “Who is this who comes from Edom with garments of glowing colors…this One who is majestic in His apparel, marching in the greatness of His strength?
Luke: They brought [the colt] to Jesus, and they threw their coats on the colt and put Jesus on it.

The Lord comes in righteous judgment:
Isaiah: “I also trod them in My anger and trampled them in My wrath....
Luke: Jesus entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling….

And, knowing what’s ahead, He still makes a Triumphal Entry.
Isaiah: “For He said, ‘Surely, they are my people, sons who will not deal falsely.’ So He became their Savior.”
Luke: “Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out.’ When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it.”

And we rejoice at our salvation.
Isaiah: “I shall make mention of the lovingkindness of the Lord, the praises of the Lord.
Luke: Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.

I live in Cambridge with Jonathan and a barrel cactus named Calvin. Both are prickly.