Fourth Thursday of Advent

Reading: Romans 10:5-13

Reflection: Sometimes it feels like God is hard to find, and that God’s presence is as distant as the stars.

Sometimes when we feel like this, we try to protect our relationship with God by reverting to law, by making decisions and drawing to determine who is “in” and who is “out” (Paul refers to this as saying “who will go up to heaven?” or “who will go down to the place of the dead?”). The problem with this reaction, though, is that the legalism and control can never give us the life and liberty of God’s Reign. Rather, we are called to faith – the kind of faith that chooses to believe that God’s presence, God’s word, is near to us even when we don’t feel it.

 

This faith is at the heart of the Advent journey. Advent leads us through stories of people who had every reason to believe they had been abandoned by God, but who continued to believe. The Old Testament Israelites, the people of Jesus’ day, John the Baptiser, Mary, Samuel, the New Testament Church – all of these people and groups that we have been reflecting on over the last few weeks had moments when God felt distant, but many of them trusted God anyway, and discovered that God is always available. This is why Paul can confidently assure his readers that anyone who calls on God’s name will be saved.

 

How can you make the choice for faith in those times when you’re not sure if God is still around? In what ways can you continually choose to “call on the name of the Lord?” and help others to do so? How can you resist the temptation to legalism and control and embrace the freedom of God’s Reign today?

 

Prayer:  Forgive me, God, when I doubt your presence and your love. Forgive me when, in my doubts,

I start trying to work out things like who is going to heaven – who is “in” – and who isn’t, hoping that this will make me feel more secure. Teach me the lesson of simple faith, of always trusting your presence, even when I’m not aware of it. Teach me to call on you at all times, and to be for others the answer when they call. Amen.

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