Devotion–Advent Week 3

Isaiah 35:1-10    Matthew 11:2-11

“Mom, are we there yet?” is now a typical refrain on car trips with my family. Sometimes my daughter asks this out of anticipation and excitement for our destination especially if we are headed to the lake or the beach to see family because she simply cannot wait to get there. Other times she asks this question out of worry or concern to know how much time is left in the car if we are headed to the doctor’s office or somewhere we haven’t been before. “Are we there yet?” is also a typical refrain of the season of Advent. As we anticipate with great excitement the hope that comes with Jesus’ birth, Advent also naturally asks us to question with some concern if somehow we have misheard the larger story of God. Is Jesus really coming? Where is God in all of this? When will Jesus arrive to bring about what has been promised? How long until we get there? How long, how long, O Lord?

Even the John the Baptist, who spent his professional career proclaiming the coming of Jesus as Messiah, eventually questioned whether Jesus was truly the one they were waiting on:

When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another? Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. Matthew 11:1-5

Jesus, however, doesn’t seem concerned with John’s question. He responds graciously and then explains to the crowd who John is so that they might understand who he is. Jesus, as proclaimed, has come to bring new eyes to the world, help those who cannot move get going again, bring healing to those society has forgotten, give people insight to hear more clearly, bring new life where only death has lived before, and to bring hope to those who have nothing left. This is still the work of Jesus! This is also the work of Christmas that we are to be part of too.

Howard Thurman’s poem, The Work of Christmas, is one of my favorite reminders of what Advent is about to bring. Let this be a reminder that, no, we aren’t quite there yet, but because of the Good News of Jesus, we soon will be.

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins: To find the lost, To heal the broken, To feed the hungry, To release the prisoner, To rebuild the nations, To bring peace among others, To make music in the heart.