By Ellen Ceely
“Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.” – Book of Common Prayer, The Collect for Year C, The Third Sunday of Advent
As we move through this season of Advent, this Collect reminds me of how God’s power and “great might” were revealed to us: in the form of a helpless baby to a young woman in a stable.
Throughout the past year, God has continuously reminded me of the fact that nothing he does is ever quite as we might expect. The world around me screams that I should be bigger, stronger, and tougher. What that usually means is to be the boss and make others bend to my will.
Do I want to see change? Then I need to make people sit up and take note! Do I desire the defeat of those I perceive as enemies? I must destroy them verbally, legally, or socially!
But this is not the way of Jesus. These are not the attitudes God chose with us. Change and deliverance didn’t come in the form of well-delivered words or the shrewd destruction of enemies. Deliverance came in the form of a little baby, God’s own Son, who humbled himself (Phil. 2:6-8) so that he could save us from sin and death.
God is in the business of deliverance. His power and great might are forever intertwined with his grace and mercy. His grace and mercy are the very things that keep us from destruction. Compelled by his love for us, he uses his overwhelming power to deliver us from death and sin.
God could have chosen to do things differently. Jesus could have arrived on earth and made the world around him sit up and take note. He could have destroyed his enemies with a single glance. But Jesus was focused on his mission of salvation, and to do that he needed to defeat death. How? By coming to earth as a little baby, living as one of us, dying, and then rising from the grave.
As you move through this Advent season, how does God’s way of doing things challenge you? In a world intent on proving everyone else wrong and destroying each other, how can you follow Christ and extend the Gospel to those around you? Whenever you find it difficult to show grace and mercy toward those you perceive as enemies, remind yourself of how God has done this for you. You were once an enemy of God (Col. 1:21) and sorely hindered by your sin, but God chose to love you. How does this challenge you to walk in his footsteps? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
In our six-week small group Bible study on the book of 1 John, you are invited to live and celebrate true life in Christ. Throughout his first letter, John wrestles with the assurance of salvation. How do we know that we are genuine Christians, and how can we recognize authentic faith in others? The Apostle John taught that you can enjoy full assurance through believing in the incarnate Son of God, walking in the light of obedience, and loving God and his children. Embark on this study with us today!
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