2022 Advent Devotional – Immanuel, God is With Us is Now Available on Kindle

Advent 2021 Devotional – November 29th

PRAYER

Take a moment to become still, aware of God’s presence, and then pray:

Loving Father, we thank you for the profound meaning and beauty of these days of Advent. In the midst of what can be a busy and hurried season we ask that you would calm our hearts and minds to be ready to receive. Reveal the glory of your beloved Son who dwelt among us to make us more like Him. Amen

REFLECTION

For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.
2 Corinthians 8:9

‘Tis the Season of Giving! More than any other time of the year, we dig deep at Christmas for loved ones and family, especially in this difficult year.

In today’s scripture the apostle Paul urges Corinthian Christians to give generously to poor saints in Jerusalem (Romans 15:25-31; 1 Corinthians 16:1-4; Galatians 2:10), pointing them to “the generous act of our Lord Jesus.” Paul reminds Christians that, “for your sakes he became poor.” The Son of God gave up heaven’s riches, taking on all the poverty of human existence so that we might inherit the riches of His glory. “Christ’s riches are His eternal glory; Christ’s poverty is his complete self-identification with our fallen human condition.” (Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way) The Incarnation of God’s Son means there is not one aspect of our human nature that Jesus did not take as His own, except sin.

In his letter to the Philippians Paul describes Jesus becoming poor for us: “though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness” (Philippians 2:6-7). The lowly birthplace of a manger and the horror of the cross shows God’s eagerness to give Himself for us. He who was infinitely above us came alongside us to dwell with us. He who was larger than all the universe emptied Himself to begin as a microscopic cell. “Here He is, poor like us, miserable and helpless like us, a person of flesh and blood like us, our brother.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger)

Humans cannot fathom the mystery of God’s Son pouring Himself out, surrendering the glory He had with His Father in heaven. We cannot measure the depth of a love so self-giving. American novelist Frederick Buechner wonders at the mystery of such love: “The One who inhabits eternity comes to dwell in time. The One whom none can look upon and live is delivered in a stable under the soft gaze of cattle. The Father of all mercies puts himself at our mercy.” (Frederick Buechner, A Room to Remember: Uncollected Pieces)

Church Father Gregory of Nazianzus preached the good news of God’s Son: “He who makes rich is made poor; he takes on the poverty of my flesh, that I gain the riches of his divinity. He who is full is made empty; he emptied for a brief space of his glory that I may share in his fullness.” (Gregory of Nazianzus, Sermon 45)

One cannot but note the personal touch in today’s scripture. The Son of God did all of this for you: “yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.” Jesus came to take your place on the cross to lift you up to heaven. Jesus, in the poverty of His humanity, prayed for you on His way to the cross: “Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am” (John 17:24a).

Christianity’s first systematic theologian, Irenaeus of Lyon, said it so well: “In His immeasurable love, He became what we are in order to make us what He is”. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies)

WORSHIP

Think back over the past 24 hours and note when you experienced a “high” and a “low”. Share with God how the humanity of Jesus might speak to you in what you experienced.

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