Daily Devotion 18 December 2020

Create a peaceful space to pause, and allow yourself to feel God’s presence alongside you, as near to you as your own breath. In following the reflection below, as a church we will draw closer to God and to one another as we grow in faith and deepen our sense of belonging to God.

Isaiah 11: 1-5 ‘A Prophecy of God’s Continuing Work’

1 A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
2 The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. 3 His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; 4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth… 5 Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,  and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

I once mistook the time of a film but decided to stay nonetheless. So it was only after seeing the ending that I could watch the beginning. It wasn’t the best experience of my life and I wished that I’d waited and come back another time to see it through in the right order. It was the same as if I’d tried to read a book starting in the middle, it just wouldn’t work, would it? So why, I wonder, do we start the story of Jesus with the baby in the manger? It really isn’t the beginning of the story at all, that goes right back to the Garden of Eden.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” sang the angels that first Christmas. God designed us, created us to live for his glory, that was the creation plan. And peace, we were created to be at peace with God and one another. The creation story tells us of God coming to walk with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden at the time of the evening breeze; it’s a beautiful picture. But in a sad moment of disobedience – a moment of greed and rebellion – that beauty was shattered. However you understand the story of the Fall, it was through humans choosing their own way rather than God’s that our problems began.

The story of the baby in the manger goes right back to the Fall. It is rooted both in God’s great love and his heartfelt grief. There’s a telling passage in the story of the flood, when we read that God saw the wickedness and the evil perpetrated by the people he had created. He was “sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart” (Genesis 6:5). So he decided to wipe the human race from the face of the earth, but Noah found favour with God and humans were given another chance.

Right through the Old Testament God saw the wrongs done by his people but he continually forgave them and gave them new chances. We read of him speaking through the prophets and of their advice, which people often ignored. Then, particularly in Isaiah in numerous passages that we know and love, there are prophecies of God sending a Messiah to save the people that he had created for his glory, that he had made in his own image and that he loved so greatly.

In a nutshell that is the run-up to the nativity story but without it the birth of the baby in the manger makes far less sense. This Advent, as we look forward with hope and joy to the coming once again of our Lord, may we also repent of our sinfulness, the wrong within us that made it necessary for God to send his only Son to save us from our sins.

Prayer:

Merciful God,
You sent the prophets
to preach repentance.
Give us grace to heed their warnings
and to forsake our sins
that we may be ready
to greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. Amen.

Reflection & Prayer © 2020 Ann Caffyn.
Images freely available online.
A printable version of this Daily Devotional can be downloaded from here

All material within this order of worship is reproduced by permission under CCL 1226356