Psalm 25:1-10, Nehemiah 9:16-25, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22
“Make your ways known to me, Lord; teach me your paths.” (Psalm 25:4)
“You sent your good Spirit to instruct them…” (Nehemiah 9:20)
“…test all things. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22)
Psalm 25 is viewed by many scholars as a solid instruction in the faithful covenant life. Many also view this as written by King David toward the end of his life. If we take these two views together, we can see a man who, though very flawed, pursued God and did his best to understand God, and who continued to seek guidance to know God’s plan and fulfill it faithfully.
Nehemiah reflects on the Israelite exodus from Egypt as part of his reflection upon the return of the remnants of Israel from exile. Nehemiah acknowledges that God never stopped trying to guide the Israelites from their bad habits taken from Egypt. Those that he leads after their exile have brought habits from Babylon that are not of God.
Paul writes to the Thessalonians, people who were deeply embedded in a culture that did not know God. He calls on them to bear the struggles they are currently going through and to not abandon the faith. Indeed, he calls on them to live it even more deeply, using the faith to filter the world around them and their lives.
Advent counts down until God comes down. Advent is not just about a child in a manger; it is also about God coming back at the end of the story. Christmas is about the never-ending gift that changes lives, given to us by someone who came and lived just like us.
When the culture around us counts down the days until Christmas, the culture is really counting down until the time when material things triumph. It is so easy to succumb to the pressures of fitting in. It is so easy to follow the habits and traditions of our culture, which drowns out the hope and light of God with stuff, or shares light-hearted stories without the God of the Universe whose love shines through. Often our biggest challenge during Christmas and Advent is for us to keep Christ in Christmas.
1) What family traditions do you have in this season?