December 16 / Third Sunday of Advent
The Lord, your God, is in your midst; he will rejoice over you with gladness;he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival. ~ Zephaniah 3:17
There have been times along the way when I simply could not locate my connection to God. Many years ago, for example, as a young mother of two children under two, living in a new city, I felt isolated and spiritually paralyzed, unable even to muster a prayer. In those moments when our spiritual connection goes static, we may find what we need in scripture. For the Good News that threads its way throughout the Bible is that God is with us, always, at every step. Through story, metaphor and history, we understand God to be an abiding presence. He strolls with Adam and Eve in the garden, prods Moses to lead the enslaved Hebrews to freedom, and sends his spirit to rest forever upon his beloved, flawed King David. Elsewhere, God is present through metaphor: He is the fearsome, thunderbolt-wielding warrior of Psalm 29, his voice flashing forth flames of fire. He is the enthroned majesty of Isaiah’s famous vision, the hem of his robe filling the temple. He is a fortress, a mighty arm, a shield, the rock of our salvation. And today, in Zephaniah’s exuberant outburst, he is the delighted Lord who breaks forth in jubilant song at Israel’s homecoming. A singing God—what a delightful illustration of the divine presence among us, a God who bears our joys as well as our sorrows. And as we strive to know the unknowable through story and metaphor, God makes himself known to us in the Incarnate Word: swaddled infant, teacher and healer, the Son of God on the cross, who became one of us to save all of us. In our suffering and in our singing, this God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is truly among us.
Exultant, exalted God, thank you for accompanying me through the peaks and valleys of my life, for weeping with me when I mourn and rejoicing with me when I laugh. Amen.