Advent Devotion for November 27, First Sunday in Advent
In lighting the first candle (the same candle all week), the candle lighter says: “Maranatha! Which means…come, Lord Jesus.”
SCRIPTURE: Genesis 3:14-19 [Old Testament, prophesied]
14 Then the Lord God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this, you are cursed more
than all animals, domestic and wild.
You will crawl on your belly,
groveling in the dust as long as you live.
15 And I will cause hostility between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring (her seed).
He will strike your head,
and you will strike his heel.”
16 Then he said to the woman,
“I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy,
and in pain you will give birth.
And you will desire to control your husband,
but he will rule over you.”
17 And to the man he said,
“Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree
whose fruit I commanded you not to eat,
the ground is cursed because of you.
All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it.
18 It will grow thorns and thistles for you,
though you will eat of its grains.
19 By the sweat of your brow
will you have food to eat
until you return to the ground
from which you were made.
For you were made from dust,
and to dust you will return.”
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 1:18 [New Testament, prophecy fulfilled]
The Birth of Jesus the Messiah
18 This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.
MUSIC: O Come, O Come Emmanuel - The Piano Guys (YouTube)
SOME THOUGHTS: You recall the context of this very familiar passage of Scripture. Adam and Eve had just rejected God and decided to go their own way as they disobeyed their Creator. The result was immediate separation from God with deadly consequences to follow. In their expulsion from the Garden, having lived in the very presence of their Father, they were given a word of hope even in the curse. God, in his mercy and grace, would provide a way back to communion with the Father. He would take the form of a human; he would become one of us. The boldfaced verse fifteen in the above passage has an unusual phrase. When we think of conception of a baby, the “seed” comes from the man to fertilize the “egg” which comes from the woman. (As you see, this is quite ‘technical!’) But the wording used here is that the “her seed” comes from the woman and is fertilized by the Holy Spirit, (Matthew 1:18) hence, Luke traces Jesus’ genealogy through Mary, making clear that Joseph was not Jesus’ birth father, God was. “Her seed” is her offspring, referring to Christ.
In Advent, we begin with looking for the Lord’s return. There are hundreds of prophecies in the First Testament that give us hints of what is to come if we are paying attention. Here is a prime example. From the earliest time, God revealed to humans his plan of redemption. In a most remarkable way, he would come to earth in human flesh, pure and holy human flesh. For that to happen God had to be involved in the conception of that God/man. At the same time, that child must be fully human in order to redeem humans. So God took a human egg from a pure, though not a sinless woman, and the sperm contribution from the Holy Spirit himself to form a human who was the perfect and holy Redeemer. For this, we thank and praise our great God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The radiance of the Father’s splendor, the Father’s visible image, Jesus Christ our God, peerless among counselors, Prince of Peace, Father of the world to come, the model after which Adam was formed, for our sakes became like a slave: in the womb of Mary the virgin, without assistance from any man, he took flesh…
Enable us, Lord, to reach the end of this luminous feast in peace, forsaking all idle words, acting virtuously, shunning our passions, and raising ourselves above the things of this world.
Bless your church, which you brought into being long ago and attached to yourself through your own life-giving blood. Help all orthodox pastors, heads of churches, and doctors [theologians].
Bless your servants, whose trust is all in you; bless all Christian souls, the sick, those tormented by evil spirits, and those who have asked us to pray for them.
Show yourself as merciful as you are rich in grace; save and preserve us; enable us to obtain those good things to come, which will never know an end.
May we celebrate your glorious birth, and the Father who sent you to redeem us, and Your Spirit, the Giver of life, now and forever, age after age. Amen.