Advent Devotional for December 17th

The Good News of Deliverance

1 The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 3 to provide for those who mourn in Zion–to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory. 4 They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.

8 For I the Lord love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. 9 Their descendants shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed. 10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. 11 For the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to to spring up, the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations. 

In his 80s, my friend, Carl, was as enthusiastic about Christmas as any first grader you know. I will never forget spotting him in our church choir the Sunday before Christmas, singing with conviction and joy. I knew it had taken him a lot to get there. He was grieving his wife and grappling with his own declining health. And so, hearing “Joy to the World!” in his voice that day was especially profound. Nobody would have blamed him if he’d chosen not to sing. But sing he did.

That day he modeled for me the promise and call of Isaiah 61. The promise is that God will bind up the broken-hearted. The call is that the broken-hearted will be the ones to share the good news of God’s healing, freeing love for this world. If that is you today, nobody will blame you if you don’t feel like singing. But if you’re able to raise the strain, know that someone with a broken heart will be moved by hearing the good news in your voice.

-Anna Dickson

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