December 10: Seeing Emmanuel…


Advent Devotion: Seeing Emmanuel...

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Mark 1:1-8

Try as we might, it is impossible to make our way through Advent's "highway in the desert" without encountering John the Baptist.

For us, John is an odd duck at best.  This stern-faced, hard-nosed, fire and brimstone prophet...whose shouts of repentance vibrate our overindulged souls in such a way that we turn off, rather than perk up to what he is saying. John's message is an electrifying call to a new life, a new hope, a new reality.

How our world needs a new existence! How we need such a life!

Saint Mark begins his gospel by stating: “This is the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” The implication here is that the news is life-sustaining and life-giving, rather than life-draining or life-depleting.

John calls us to turn around, to recalibrate our lives (if you will), so we can see Emmanuel: God’s very presence, in, through, around, and among us.

What would it take for you to see and notice Emmanuel? This is the invitation of Advent. For Advent is immediate, mysterious, and engaging. The Season’s very nature is one of movement: darkness to light, gestation to birth, promise to fulfillment…or as SFTS Advent’s theme reminds us—to the turning of the world to justice, to freedom, to shalom.

Advent pushes us to live on the edge, to be on tiptoes—attentive to the new thing that God is doing in our world and in our lives. This is God's promise of revolution (which Emmanuel is all about!) where everything changes, and life is never the same again. This is Advent’s promise that the world is about to turn, and it is up to us to help make this a reality.

Today, and this week, how might you look for Emmanuel’s Presence in your life, and relationships, as you seek to turn our world to God?

Rev. Jeffrey S. Gaines
Pastor, Seventh Avenue Presbyterian Church, San Francisco
SFTS Adjunct Faculty, DASD