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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, December 1, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  2 Peter 3:1–10

This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you; in them I am trying to arouse your sincere intention by reminding you that you should remember the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets, and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken through your apostles.

First of all you must understand this, that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and indulging their own lusts and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since our ancestors died, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation!” They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago and an earth was formed out of water and by means of water, through which the world of that time was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the godless.

But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.

The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed. (NRSV)

It wasn’t until I moved to Chicagoland that I learned some people didn’t place the baby Jesus in their nativity displays until Christmas Eve. As a new transplant I mentioned that it was just awful that some hoodlum had stolen all the baby Jesuses from the lawn displays around my neighborhood. My colleagues in the company lunchroom dropped their forks and made the sign of the cross. I was then schooled on the appropriate timing of Jesus’ arrival.

I argued that if we were to get all biblical, it was improbable that shepherds, wisemen, Mary, and Joseph stared at an empty manger from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve. Why bother to wait on Jesus? Advent calls us to consider a similar question. We know how the story crescendos on Christmas Eve. We celebrate God coming to us in the form of a baby. And yet, we wait. We ponder the question of what it means that God shows up.

2 Peter reminds that God has been faithful throughout time and also warns against scoffers—those who mock and deride this idea that Jesus is coming. It seems there’s never a shortage of scoffers: those who question where God is in this pandemic, this time of political unrest, this time of isolation and grief. Look around! Why bother waiting on God to show up?

Advent calls us to ask the question and yet to deeply know the answer. We contemplate the ways that God is present throughout time. We know that God shows up on Christmas Eve and the other 364 days too. We may not fully understand the timing, yet we can trust that God is faithful to show up.

During Advent, help me to question and yet to know. Also, guard against my tendency to be a scoffer. I want to know Jesus’ presence on Christmas Eve and all the other days as well. Amen.

Written by Andrea Denney, Executive Director of Operational Ministries

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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