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Advent Day 3

Dec 5, 2023


December 5th, 2023

Primary text, Micah 4:6-13. Secondary text, Psalm 79 & Revelation 18:1-10.

Now why do you cry aloud? Is there no king in you? Has your counselor perished, that pangs have seized you like a woman in labor? 

10 Writhe and groan, O daughter Zion, like a woman in labor, for now you shall go forth from the city and camp in the open country; you shall go to Babylon. There you shall be rescued; there the Lord will redeem you from the hands of your enemies. – (Micah 4:9-10, NRSV).

Advent is supposed to be a time of love, peace, joy, and — as was commemorated this last week on the Advent wreath — hope. Micah’s words give us the kind of hope we need to hear rather than a kind of hope that we want to hear. The prophet gives us a shocking dialogue between God and the Israelites (also called daughter Zion; 4:8, 10, 13), who at this point in history are destined to go into exile to Babylon (4:10). Eventually, though, they will emerge as a sovereign (4:8) and strong nation (4:7). Again, Micah is trying to sound a trumpet of hope in his verses here. But he does so only after acknowledging Zion’s inevitable demise. They have pangs they are set to endure, pangs which are as sure to happen as those of “woman in labor” (4:10).

The hope of God has nothing to do with denying our current pains. There’s some very honest “writh[ing] and groan[ing]” that takes place (4:10). Take for example the recent disaffiliation. Though it’s easy for some United Methodists to act like ‘this doesn’t affect us whatsoever,’ the painful truth is that it has affected us. The hope for the United Methodist Church lies beyond this painful present. Let’s take a more individual example. A common thing that people might say upon receiving a troubling diagnosis from the doctor is, “I just know Jesus will protect me from this.” But Micah would have us believe that our living hope rests on the other side of that painful news. Micah does not sugarcoat the present. He merely anticipates the glorious promise of God beyond “Babylon…here the Lord will redeem you” (4:10).

We can have hope not that God will keep us from the pangs of the future, but that God will deliver us through them. This is what it means to wait for Jesus. This is what it means to have hope in a crucified Messiah. This is what it means to wait for our glorious resurrection and life everlasting.

Reverend Andrew Thompson

Stewart Memorial United Methodist Church

Buffalo, Texas

Prayer: Come thou long expected Jesus. “Let us find our rest in Thee. Israel’s strength and consolation. Hope of all the earth Thou art: Dear desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart.” Let our hearts long for you this day. In Jesus name. Amen


Dec 5, 2023

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