Advent Devotions: Blessings just for us?

Advent 2015. Design by Doug Puller/Bread for the World.

Editor’s note: This Advent season, Bread Blog is running a series of devotionals written by staff, alumni, and friends of the San Francisco Theological Seminary, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).       

By Rev. Ruth T. West

Luke 4:14-30

Sometimes our vision is too narrow.

We put restrictions on everything to assure that our portion is secure and available, whether we need it or not. Not having something we perceive as essential becomes the basis for justification of the “-isms” that are really extensions of our worst sense of identity and entitlement.

We want to be like Jesus and unroll that scroll and make that proclamation on God’s behalf. Yet when it comes to resources (sanctuary, economic hospitality, security) we acknowledge, even embrace, our humanness, i.e., we engage the facts that we are flawed and limited and therefore can’t share as we should. Consequently, our imperfections speak loudly for us…

This land is just for us. Ideals for personhood and morality should be designed by us. The harvest of Creation should be controlled by us. And pretty soon we can’t help but infer that Justice now means “Just Us” and therefore salvation can be assigned by us.

In today’s text, I hear Jesus telling the people whom he is physically with (God with us) that God is also present with our neighbor. I sense an invitation to consider that God’s abundance necessarily means that there is room for someone else, other than us, to also be blessed by God. Our willingness to accept the breadth of God’s abundance means that we can dispel our notions of scarcity that keep our fists clenched.

The Healing Hope for this Advent season is in the abundance of God’s love, not just for one, but for all. This love is manifested in the birth of Jesus. This abundance includes the possibilities for reconciliation (one to an-other) and for the reconciliation of humanity back to God’s self; for peace and for peaceful ways; for freedom and for being set free.

Rev. Ruth T. West is the San Francisco Theological Seminary program manager for programs in Christian Spirituality and clinical pastoral education.

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