Pay attention to the tension in your body. Let go of it and any expectations to do anything other than God’s will today. Prepare yourself to hear God’s word.
Malachi 3:1-4 (NRSV)
See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?
For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the LORD in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years.
Malachi writes to us as a prophet, or someone called on by God to speak on behalf of the divine. Typically, prophets had the authority to challenge those in power (and people in general) to follow the will of God. A prophet in ancient Hebrew society spoke of disaster and judgment, but also of survival and hope, addressing communities with the words of YHWH. In this text, Malachi foretells of the “messenger of the covenant” that is to come. In our context, we can read this as the expectation of the Christ child.
The predictions made about Jesus in this passage are interesting to note: “Who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?” It seems like Malachi was expecting a messenger who brings harsh judgment and a display of “fire.” As we continue in this Advent season, however, we understand this messenger to be someone quite different – the incarnation of the divine not in a ruthless ruler but in a baby lying in a manger. Similar to Malachi, our own expectations for the works of God sometimes clash with reality. Often, our preconceived notions about the future and the plans on which we spend so much time are redirected or thrown out altogether. Despite all this, we continue to be blessed by the miracle of the Messiah, the good news of the gospel.
O God our Creator, you revolve the planets, change colors of the leaves, and bring forth blooms after an icy winter. We are awestruck by the ways that you spin our world, by the ways that your Spirit moves. Sometimes we’re surprised or caught off guard by your gifts to us because they aren’t what we expect, but we know that in all things you work for good. Amen.
Go with God!