Christ is drawing, drawing near, Christ is coming, coming here!” So ends a stanza of Tom H. Troeger’s Advent hymn, “Wild the Man and Wild the Place.” The Romans writer, Paul, hearkens back to the prophets—Isaiah in particular—in proclaiming that the one who saves is coming from the root of Jesse. The one who saves is coming to bring hope and the realm of the holy to all the world—not just to the people of God from among the Hebrew people—but to everyone. Christ is drawing near; Christ is coming here!
Paul stresses unity of all who profess Christ and “glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He notes God’s steadfastness that encourages believers to live in harmony. The stump of Jesse came for the salvation of Israel and, through Israel, the world: Jews and Gentiles.
So what do we do? How do we prepare for the coming of the one who saves into the world and into our lives? And how will we know when the stump of our old way of being has produced new shoots and vines and leaves and blossoms and fruit?
Paul boils it down to this: “Welcome one other, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” Advent is a time of preparing our interior house in order to welcome Christ. Further, it is a time of preparing to become like Christ as we welcome other people into all the abundance that love brings to life.
Hospitable God, we want to share in your hospitality by welcoming others in love as you welcome us. May we be awake, aware, and ready to welcome. Amen.
The Old Testament roots of Advent hope are cast in royal imagery. The psalm marks the king as one whose work is to bring justice to the weak. The new king makes a new world possible. The Gospel reading is both invitation and warn- ing that we must make concrete decisions to reorder our life in ways appropriate to God’s new intention. Characteristically Paul makes the grand, sweeping claim: The new behavior appropriate to God’s new governance is that the strong and the weak, the haves and have-nots, relate to each other in new faithfulness. Advent is spent pondering speci c decisions about bringing our daily life into sync with God’s rule.
• Read Isaiah 11:1-10. When do you allow yourself “fallow” time? How does that time of “resting” nurture your fruitful- ness?
• Read Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19. This prayer for the king expresses the qualities that the people desire in a leader. What would you add to the list?
• Read Romans 15:4-13. Paul notes that Christ welcomed you for the glory of God. Consider the last several months: Whom have you welcomed for the glory of God?
• Read Matthew 3:1-12. What is growing in your heart’s wil- derness this Advent season?
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