category: Advent

Advent Reflection: Day 7

Saturday,  December 4

Malachi 4:1–6 ; Luke 9:1–6

This passage in Malachi bids the reader to see a new day. For those who are arrogant and evil, the outlook is bleak. For those who revere God’s name, the new day brings joy; “like calves from the stall,” the image is one of new life bursting out of its containment. The wicked will be reduced to ashes, while those with new life will disregard the ash and enjoy the promise of the new season. Healing is coming. Help is coming. Remember Moses, the instruction of the Lord. Look for Elijah, the prophetic power of God.

Waiting is particularly hard if the waiting is in pain, or discomfort, or confusion. The clock moves forward with excruciating reluctance in the waiting area of the emergency room. Pathology reports travel with great leisure while one imagines the significance of a mysterious lump. Acceptance letters, loan approvals, sixteenth birthdays, new babies, green lights, and messiah redeemers all require something from the person waiting. How do we make it? How do we keep the faith? Malachi encourages the reader to hold on to the truth of God’s instruction and to the power of God’s prophetic voice.

How did this play out for those faithful readers and “waiters” of Malachi? Luke, no stranger to narratives from cattle stalls, writes about the fulfillment of prophecies and cliffhangers of the Old Testament. In Luke 9, Jesus called the disciples together, gave them power over demons and disease, and sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. Accordingly, they went around “bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere.” Like Malachi’s calf leaping from the stall, they were enthusiastically doing the work of the new day. But some would resist.

Malachi details the resistance of the wicked, that they would be ashes underfoot in the day of the Lord’s action; destructive elements would be reduced to stubble and ash. Jesus provided a similar cautionary word to the disciples, instructing them to “shake the dust off your feet” when they encountered resistance to their efforts to encourage and to heal. It seems like the ash of Malachi is somehow found in the dust of Luke.

Why would people resist help and hope? Why do drowning swimmers sometimes fight the rescuer? Those answers are not simple or easy, but the phenomenon of resistance in the face of remedy is not a surprise. There will always be destructive elements that hinder help, but Jesus (and Malachi) quite literally tells us to keep walking. Ash and dust are expected and manageable while walking in the already and waiting for the not yet.

Wherever and however we are, may we wait with confidence and walk with conviction.

Dennis Boyce
Lead Pastor at  First Assembly of God in Gastonia, NC
School of Divinity Graduate

Dennis Boyce
Lead Pastor at  First Assembly of God in Gastonia, NC
School of Divinity Graduate

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Advent Reflection: Day 8

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