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Dec 16 Advent Devotional

By the Rev. Matt Zemanick
Malachi 3:16-4:6; Mark 9:9-13; Psalm 125

Perhaps you have heard these times called Apocalyptic.
No, not like the street preachers, saying the end is near. Well, not the way one might imagine it.

Apocalypse means revelation; at the end of a play the actors are revealed as the curtain is pulled back.
The curtain of our reality is pulled back and the ugly machinations of Oz are revealed.

We join the disciples, facing the reality of the world, after the revelation of Jesus’ identity on the Mountaintop in the Transfiguration. We descend from the mountain into the reality of this world. In the back of our head is the promise the Son of Humanity must suffer, die, and rise on the third day.
Why would the messiah do such a thing?

There is an episode of On Being* with Ruby Sales. Ruby was and is forever on the frontlines in the struggle for freedom. She shared that when they were protesting, a part of her waited for God to descend from the heavens and strike down the racist police. I was glad to hear that I am not alone in this sentiment.

Ruby, like all great prophets and mystics know, that God does show up in these struggles for freedom. God is in the fire in our hearts. God is in the breath of our lives. God is in our tears of lamentation. God is in every step forward. God is in our songs for freedom. Another great mystic, Saint Gregory the Nazianzen wrote about this phenomenon, what Christians call the Incarnation. “That which is not assumed is not redeemed.” This is the ultimate revelation, the beginningless end and endless beginning.

Currently, by the community’s invitation, I am working in Chicago with the Southeast Environmental Task Force. We are fighting for clean air as the City of Chicago continues to use this majority Latinx, working-class community as a dumping ground. We have yet to know the scope of environmental damage and impact on human health. We need healing. God is enfleshed in: our struggle, asthma attacks, poems for freedom, marches, …our sense of community. It is into this mess, all of our mess, that defines God’s Advent. The spiritual** born out of the African American experience rings true, “Jesus knows all about my troubles.” This alongside the prophet’s words, “the sun of liberation shall rise with healing in its wings.”

How have you noticed God today? Where do you need to notice God? How do you need God to free you? May it be so!

*On Being Episode

**Jesus Knows All About My Troubles

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