An Advent reflection for Saturday, December 16th by Kim Delp
Lectionary reading for 12/16/2023 Psalm 126; Habakkuk 3:13-19; Matthew 21:28-32
Selected passage for Reflection: Habakkuk 3:13-19
Habakkuk 3:13-19, New International Version
13 You came out to deliver your people, to save your anointed one. You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness, you stripped him from head to foot. 14 With his own spear you pierced his head when his warriors stormed out to scatter us, gloating as though about to devour the wretched who were in hiding. 15 You trampled the sea with your horses, churning the great waters.
16 I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. 17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.
For the director of music. On my stringed instruments.
If I’m being honest, I have never thought of this passage in light of Advent. Over this past year, God has shown me this passage from a place of abundance and hope, from places of sadness and wanting. From a place of hurt. I’m currently tired and weary. I’m burned out on religion like Matthew 11:28-30 from The Message talks about. This year I have been hurt, lost trust and felt like I’m failing in ministry, like it's all falling apart. I’m holding grief and loss and each day feels like a new fire that I need to put out. So, to come to this passage in anticipation, in waiting, in hope feels hard. I’m resisting it a bit because that isn’t the head space I’m in. I’m in more of the space of Holy Friday, mourning, sadness, grief.
But as God does, in reflecting and drawing me into this passage again with new eyes, this is the exact intersection that Advent brings. We are waiting in hopeful anticipation at the coming messiah, but also looking further to the second coming of Jesus. It’s almost impossible to think of the manger without thinking about the cross. We view the birth of Jesus with a view of the cross. With a view of what the cross represents in this redeeming of all things to Himself. THIS is the hope of His birth and the redemption of his death. I think if we are honest, at least if I am, we like to view these two things separately. It feels too hard to think of the heaviness of the cross when we want to focus on the hope of the manger. But what would it look like if we viewed these two together? Because Jesus is redeeming all things, all of OUR things are included in that, the good, the bad and the really ugly; in his birth AND his death.
In this sweet passage in Habakkuk, there are two instances where the word “yet” is noted; in verse 16 and in verse 18. This simple, short word embodies the significance of carrying both the birth and death of Jesus, the good and bad, destruction and redemption. The power of the word “yet” gives hope. We don’t stay in the place of death and destruction. We don’t stay in the place of decay like verse 16 describes, “decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled.
YET. In verses 17 and 18, there’s no grapes or figs or olives, no food, no sheep or cattle, YET. There’s more. There’s a glimpse behind all the mess and chaos. The hope is that God is with us. God is there in the midst. The hope of the birth held at the same time as the heaviness of the cross because as Paul says in Colossians 1:20, He is reconciling all things to Himself.
If you are like me right now, where you feel like most days you are holding on by a mere thread, remember that God is not only with you, but He is FOR you. He’s in your corner, you are not alone even though it feels like it. The power of yet, the power of hope in His birth and death is the hope not only of this season, but the hope that is for all seasons and spaces.
Set a few minutes aside for this time to respond.
Light your favorite candle. Create a space that’s inviting for you, turn on soft music and allow the spirit to show you new insights to the significance of this word “yet” in your life.
Take some time to reflect on the two images below.
Whatever place you are coming from to this space and time is OK. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all. It’s OK to come from the view of abundance, grief, weariness. God has space for it all.
Contemplate this idea of viewing the manger and the cross together.
What does that mean to you?
Do these images bring it to life in a new way?
Have you ever thought about this before?
With this view you are experiencing right now, how could that change the way you view advent?
Take some time to think through this. Journal, talk to a friend, write a poem or create something that brings you hope in whatever season you are walking through right now.
If you have additional time, here are a few songs that God has used to encourage and focus my attention on Him, perhaps they will do the same for you.
God of hope, God of redemption. Thank you for allowing us to come into your presence how we are. Thank you that we don’t have to come with everything together, but that we can bring you our mess and chaos knowing that you are in the middle of it with us. Create in us today a spirit of hope, knowing that you were born to die for us, to bring hope and redemption to a world that is broken. Thank you for not giving up on me in my doubt and in my joy when I seemingly have it together and when I’m falling apart. Thank you, Jesus, thank you for loving me. Thank you for redeeming me. Thank you. Amen.
About the Author
Kim Delp is a wife to Joel, mom to Simeon (13), Esther (9), and Ephraim (8) and serves in Ecuador, South America as a missionary. She is a Family Nurse Practitioner and also the Co-Founder of the Santiago Partnership which partners in Ecuador to start medical clinics, Homes for At-Risk Children, different community-based programs with the goal of working herself out of a job. Her passion is empowering women to see their value and worth and to use their passions to experience both of these things. She has only realized recently that writing is something that shows her identity and worth in Jesus. She is a lover of coffee, experiencing nature and being with people. Learn more about the Santiago Partnership at https://www.santiagopartnership.org/