Wednesday: Psalm 119.89-128; Isaiah 62; Luke 19.11-28

From: Megan Pinckard

"You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight is in Her, and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you..."

Sometimes, oftentimes, I forget that I am known.

Even with the onslaught of social media, certain friends forget about me. Bosses and co-workers ignore me. Even my dearest and darlingest loved ones will fall silent on the days, during the moments, that I especially need a kind word. More than that, I want to be seen as I am, with heavy or withered heart, and accepted.

There are many miracles where the scriptures are concerned, but perhaps one of the greatest to me is that Christ calls each of us by name. He sees, and he knows, and he calls--come. Better yet, he gives greater names, ones we do not deserve but need, ones that describe whom we were created to be, what we were made to do. He did the same for Mary. From child to chosen to mother. Favored one, he called her.

We, too, are favored. Mary carried little Christ; we, we ourselves are little Christs. What a miracle. What a miraculous, wondrous, ridiculous fact. What a reason for my soul, my blood, and my bones to magnify the Lord.

I have the hands of a third grader and the soul of a fifty year old. I buy toys and children's books for a living.

Tuesday: Psalm 119.49-88; Isaiah 61; Luke 18.31-19.10

From: Mark Booker

I think most of us feel like we’re the primary actors in our lives. What we do (or don’t do) matters most to our sense of joy or despair. When we open the Scriptures we’re confronted with a different way of seeing. God’s actions are primary, and they are THE source of joy. I was convicted by God about this last week while reciting Ps 95 in morning prayer. In that psalm, his character and his works inspire our joyful noise. They are the focus.

Isaiah 61 is no different. This is just the way Scripture works. Here, God’s anointed one (Messiah) brings about liberation and justice and blessing. It’s a glorious picture of salvation for a hard-pressed people. Their fortunes are changed, not by their ingenious or industrious action but by the gracious action of God.

And their response? Verse 7 promises “everlasting joy” and verse 10 says, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God…” Joy. That is a defining mark of God’s people, signified by the third candle of the Advent wreath that we lit this past Sunday.

When my actions are at the center, joy is elusive. There are too many failures, too many unfinished tasks, too many areas for improvement. When God’s actions are at the center, as, in fact, they actually are, joy is inevitable.

The question God is asking me right now, and I would encourage you to let him ask you, is this: are my (God’s) great works at the center of your life? The degree to which I can answer that in the affirmative, whatever is going on in and around my life, is, I think, the degree to which I will experience true joy.

Mandy and I live in Jamaica Plain with our four kids, the youngest of which turned 8 this past Thursday. She requested Chicken Tikka Masala (lovingly referred to as Chicken Ma’tikka in our family) and dirt and worms for her birthday meal and dessert.

Sunday: Psalms 115-117; Isaiah 59; Luke 17.20-end

From: Rebecca Lefroy

The general consensus about Jesus in public life, certainly in our part of the world, is that either he is an exclusive teacher to be ignored, or he says some good things but is irrelevant to present day life. So instead, the world turns elsewhere for seemingly more immediate, personal satisfaction and meaning: relationships, money, a successful career, sex... All idols made by men. And the irony that Psalm 115 points out is that they are essentially useless: “They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes but they cannot see.” Furthermore, the Psalmist warns that as they trust them, they will become like them.

In stark contrast to our society, these passages present Jesus as a mighty warrior of upmost importance and relevance. Psalm 115 repeats that the Lord is our “help and shield”. Similarly, Isaiah 59 uses the image of the Lord putting “on righteousness as a breastplate and a helmet of salvation on his head.” He is active and present, purposefully pursuing each of us and those we come into contact with. He is able to do this not because of what we’ve done but because “his own arm brought him salvation”, a tremendously humbling image.

This Advent, let’s not look to the world around us to give us meaning and satisfaction, but let’s look to the God of the universe who is actively sending, pursuing, searching and saving the lost through his very own Son.

I live near Porter Square with my husband, Ben. My favorite things at this time of the year are cranberry sauce, New England houses decorated with lights and the carol, “Hark the Herald”.