First Sunday, first candle

Of all the things we burned in my family (small fires, big fires, stove-top fires), advent candles never caught on. So this morning as I blearily stared at the wreath of candles in church and watched the long handle of a lighter pass a flame to the fresh wick, I wondered how they knew which candle to light first.

The whole concept of Advent is counting down the days…there are even passage guides of daily scriptures to read. This morning I had to double-check. Why would they pick Jeremiah 33? You can read it below…

14 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’

17 “For thus says the Lord: David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel, 18 and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man in my presence to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings, and to make sacrifices forever.”

19 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 20 “Thus says the Lord: If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night will not come at their appointed time, 21 then also my covenant with David my servant may be broken, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and my covenant with the Levitical priests my ministers. 22 As the host of heaven cannot be numbered and the sands of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the offspring of David my servant, and the Levitical priests who minister to me.”

The promise was hundreds of years old. Judah was promised a line of kings. David was promised that this line would come from his descendants. And then fighting and the tribes split and more fighting and Israel went into exile, and Judah was following right behind. So where was this promise now? Was it only under temporary lease or was there a clause in there that the promise would be broken after excessive disobedience? No. God would send a king. A righteous Branch from this tree of David. And they could count on it. As sure as there is a day and a night, that is how sure we can be that God will keep His promise.

And Jesus came. In the line of David. And He will come again as King. That’s something to get excited about! He’s coming because we live in a broken world. A world full of sin and struggles. And our world is not much better than Judah about to go into exile. And we wonder if God will keep His promises, or if they expired before AD 2000. Sound familiar? God is outside of time, and His promises do not expire. So we can joyfully point to these verses in Advent and say, a Savior has come, and He will come again! Are you ready?

God, it’s frightening how quickly I forget about Jesus. I get so frustrated with the world, but I do not look to You as the solution. Thank You for Advent, and the focused view of how You have kept Your promises. God, You always keep Your promises! You sent Jesus, and He will come again! Thank You God, for this season to celebrate that, and please help me to share that great news. Thank You for Advent fires. Amen.

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