Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,
‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body you have prepared for me;
in burnt-offerings and sin-offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, “See, God, I have come to do your will, O God”
(in the scroll of the book it is written of me).’
When he said above, ‘You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt-offerings and sin-offerings’ (these are offered according to the law), then he added, ‘See, I have come to do your will.’ He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. And it is by God’s will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Imagine being one of a multitude of people worldwide working for improvement in the social condition and economic reality of God’s people, as well as the Earth they inhabit. In Blessed Unrest, Paul Hawken takes a close look at all the efforts of caring people everywhere and finds it the largest movement the world has ever seen. No one knows the actual size of the movement, but it brings hope and help to billions of people. You might say this multitude of caring people has heard the message of Advent, the promise of new life. And through our joint efforts at RCLPC, we are part of that movement.
In today’s scripture verses, Christ rejects sacrifices and burnt offerings as what God would want of us, and then Hebrews’ author restates that thought, making sure we’re paying attention. Christ has set aside the old laws and established a new order. This new order—a life of kindness, compassion, and love—starts in our homes, churches, and communities, spreading to God’s loved children throughout the world.
During communion earlier in December, the choir sang “A Place at the Table”. It speaks of justice for everyone… woman and man, young and old, just and unjust. Clean water, bread, shelter, safe places. Fairness, freedom, forgiveness. I can rarely sing those words without tears in my eyes. What a world that will be! For us to be “creators of justice and joy” is surely a tall order, a challenge as we live each day of our lives, and an incredible calling.
As Advent culminates in Jesus’ birth, we find we aren’t bystanders at the manger but instead participants in the unfolding of God’s kingdom of love and peace. The promise of new life, filled with justice and joy, awaits our hearts, hands, and feet.
Gracious God, guide my steps from the manger to my home and my neighbors, wherever they may be, and however I may be a creator of justice and joy. Amen.
–may the Spirit move through the words of Lois Johnson