Scripture - Isaiah 1:10–20
“Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” (Isaiah 1:16–17)
The beginning of Advent is a dream time for the list-makers among us. Between shopping and cooking and letter writing, there is much to do as we prepare ourselves and our families for the impending celebration of Christ’s birth.
Even as we go to all this trouble preparing ourselves for the coming of the Christ-child, Isaiah’s warning strikes an uncomfortably close chord. The people of God seem to be systematically marking things off their well-intentioned to-do list. Burnt offerings? Check! Incense? Done! Sabbath? Taken! Festivals? Planned! How is it that everything can be checked off the list and yet God be displeased?
The words of the prophet ring in our ears: God “has told you, O mortal, what is good” (Micah 6:8). While all the particulars may be covered, we have somehow forgotten what is really important—to do what is good, seek justice, and defend those without power.
As you go about your Advent tasks this year, don’t let your list of preparations get in the way of truly preparing yourself for the coming of the Prince of Peace among us.
God of all our days, journey with us as we prepare for your coming among us. Help us to not get so distracted by our duties that we forget your call to care for others. Amen.
Jeff Roper, financial aid officer, Lyon College,
The Rev. Leslie Bethell Roper, associate pastor,
First Presbyterian Church, Batesville, Arkansas