Saturday, December 19th. 2020
“Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.”
Hello & Welcome to another Advent entry of “Advent in Narnia.” How are you feeling after reading the scripture verses for today and reading chapter 8? Lucy asks an interesting question after learning that Aslan is a Lion. “Is he safe?” a logical question indeed for a child. Mr. Beaver’s reply is, “Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s a king.” After all, he is a Lion and they can be very ferocious! What about the verses from Malachi, it’s not your typical “Christmas “ story of sweet baby Jesus in a stable manger. At this stage in my life, I appreciate the pretty picture of Jesus’ birth but in reality, it was not pretty, it was not clean, not a sterile environment, no comforts, and definitely no epidurals(!). There’s a song I keep hearing on the radio that touches me heart each time I hear it and I am thankful I have the pretty visual of Jesus’ birth and now a more truthful one as well. I posted it in an earlier blog post but want to include it here for you as well…
Malachi describes a messenger of judgment, an avenging angel, and in Narnia a ferocious Lion. But, the more we read, study and learn, the messengers mission is not to avenge and punish but to purify and restore. If you have ever witnessed how precious metals are refined you know it is labor intense. When purification of wool or other textiles, the process includes harsh soaps and whitening procedures . The end results of these refinements reveals priceless things. This is true with dealing with human behaviors and addictions, reconciliation can only be achieved after much change and refinement. God does not want to punish us, He loves us and He only wants what’s best for us.
Mary and Joseph had difficult circumstances arise from the announcement of Mary’s pregnancy, to traveling while in her third trimester, the shadows of judgment from her family and friends but Mary and Joseph pressed on and had faith that God was in charge. The cost was high to be the parents of Jesus, each struggle prepared them for each challenge they would face in the future.
Jesus’ second coming…I am not sure what your experiences in church have been, mine…I heard a lot of “hell fire & brimstone” sermons growing up. Looking back it seems like a “scared straight” campaign. I believe religion just like everything else in this world cycles, in the 1970’s and 1980’s, many churches were preaching of Jesus’ return, I believe the hearts of ministers were in the right places but I would have appreciated a more balanced approach to learning about Jesus and His return. Perhaps a bit more love and compassion with the hell fire/brimstone. It seems like the past decade many sermons I hear are about love and compassion, almost too sweet and syrupy, little depth. The truth as I see it, you may or may not agree is that Jesus is all…brimstone, love and compassion. His return will be glorious and fearsome. Some good questions to ask ourselves would be; will it hurt? will it cost anything? how much will it cost? Jesus and Aslan are both good and they are both Kings.
Waiting for Jesus’ second coming is both exhausting and frightfully exciting. We want to be ready and we need to stay present in the day being alive, as we want to be Christ’s beloved.
Questions for Reflection:
•Do you think much about the second coming? What’s it like to imagine Jesus’ returning one day as a reality, rather than as described by a movie plot or fringe religious sect?
— Yes. Both exciting and terrifying;
• What in you might be in need of “refining”? How might it hurt? How might it be a relief?
— Everything, it’s a daily renewing. I accept I am human, fallible and sinful. I believe God loves me and created me. I seek to become the person He knows I was purposely made to be.
• Is it more challenging for you to imagine Christ as a dangerous bringer of judgment or as a loving, merciful redeemer? Why do you think that is?
— Based upon my background and sermons I’ve heard through the years I accept that both are true.