Scripture: Amos 5:18–27 (Today’s Readings)
The Bible gives us vivid imagery of Christ’s arrivals in the world. At Christmastime, we look to the gospels and are filled with a kaleidoscope of angels and shepherds, friendly barnyard animals, crisp starry skies, and exotic visitors bearing kingly gifts. The prophet Amos describes Jesus’ return to earth and warns that, for the unrepentant, His Second Coming will be like a snake bite(!), and a time of darkness.
It can be perplexing when we try to reconcile the innocence of baby Jesus and the scary judgment of apocalyptic-Second-Coming Jesus. Amos confronts our cozy conceptions of Christmas and reminds us that the Word of God is unsettling. It challenges us, turns our lives upside down, and demands righteousness.
I once heard that Jesus’ Advent is like having a really cool neighbor move in next door. He’s super friendly and always around for a casual chat or for when you need to borrow a tool. Then one day, He knocks on the door and tells you that He’d like to move in and stay in your spare bedroom. You are hesitant about this unusual request, but invite him into your home. He helps with the bills and housework, and, in general, is a wonderful house guest. After a few weeks, He gently tells you that you’re going to need to start getting rid of some of the clutter and junk around the house. It won’t be easy, but He’ll help you set things right.
Prayer: Father, as we celebrate Your Advent and ponder Your imminent return, keep us mindful of Your call to righteousness. Confront us with Your life-changing Word, and teach us to seek justice and practice repentance. Amen.
Contributed by Adam D. Loucks, Deacon
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Artwork: Detail of No Between © Jan L. Richardson. janrichardson.com. Inspired by Isaiah 64:1: “O that You would tear open the heavens and come down … .”