Though eighty years old, Mawanda held vigil each Friday at noon in front of the local police station. For years, she had endured Zimbabwe’s brutal dictatorship without protest as farmlands withered, thugs confiscated whatever they chose, and dissenters disappeared into secret torture camps. Then her husband and son were arrested, driven away in hoods, and never seen again. Now, Mawanda stood in protest. Enduring beatings, tauntings, and public strip searches, she had held weekly vigils for over three years. Justice seemed an impossible dream.
One of the militia taunted her, “Why do you keep this up, old woman? You have no hope. We are too strong. We will beat you down until you can’t get up and we will be here to stay.”
Mawanda replied, “I hope because the power within me is stronger than the power of this world. God hears the cries of the oppressed and will raise the lowly up. You can beat me down, but I will rise up out of the grave if necessary. The power of justice, the power of God, does not die. Maybe today, maybe in a thousand years, tyranny will fall, and God’s righteousness will reign across the land.”
Today’s text was written several generations after Jesus’ death. His followers expected him to return and establish God’s reign within a few months of his death. Now those months stretched into decades. Scoffers were rampant, chastising Chris- tians for continuing to believe.
God will return. Oppression, in all forms, will be vanquished. Truth and justice will be secured. It will happen like a thief in the night, like the Berlin Wall crumbling in a moment. So wait steadfastly. And keep your hope unblemished. Stand up for righteousness with courage, for the impossible dream is God’s guarantee.
Faithful God, as we wait for the coming of your reign on earth, help us be strong in the truth of our hope. Amen.
Hopeful anticipation characterizes this week’s texts. God’s people have come to terms with their inability to save themselves. Isaiah 40 states that Jerusalem has “served her term” in bondage to sin; a new era is about to dawn. Psalm 85 continues the theme of old sins forgiven, emphasizing an urgent need for some fresh outbreak of God’s initiatives. Harmonious and responsible relationships are to dominate the hearts of the people. Thoughts of righteousness and peace also pervade the passage from 2 Peter 3. Yet the focus is clearly on Christ’s Second Advent. His coming will be sudden and unannounced; the new creation will then appear. The Gospel text focuses on the earthly ministry of Jesus as John the baptizer comes to sensitize all hearts to the advent of the One promised long ago.
• Read Isaiah 40:1-11. God’s word of comfort brings challenge as well: How are you preparing the way of the Lord?
• Read Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13. What glimpses of heaven in your daily life give you con dence in God’s steadfast love?
• Read 2 Peter 3:8-15a. How are you using this time of Advent waiting to move toward more faithful living?
• Read Mark 1:1-8. John identified himself as “messenger.” How would you identify your role in working toward the reign of Christ?
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