George Hovaness Donigian is a United Methodist pastor serving in South Carolina and an activist concerning Armenian matters. He is author of the Lenten book for 2014, A World Worth Saving: Lenten Spiritual Practices for Action.
Disciplines: A Book of Daily Devotions is a longstanding and beloved resource published annually by Upper Room Books. Each week’s readings are reflections on scripture passages from the lectionary for that period.
In 2013 not only can you read these daily devotions but also comment on them, ask the writer a question, and respond to others who are reading the same material each day. We are looking forward to building a community of Disciplines readers! Just sign in and add your comment in the Comments section following the Monday blog post.
Each Monday an introduction and the initial reading for the week will be posted. Come back to this Monday post throughout the week to continue the conversation about the week’s readings and prayers.
Read Matthew 11:2-5
We think of Advent as a time of preparation for Christmas. For many people, that preparation embraces the world of consumer goods and the realm of the spirit. Some of us feel a sense of joy when we see symbols of Christmas on the streets and in houses and churches. Some of us grow grouchy when we see television commercials that feature adapted religious symbols to sell shavers and cars and jewelry. Some of us shun television and commercial media as an Advent practice, similar to the sacrificial tradition of Lent, and use the time to prepare to celebrate the birth of the Christ.
John the Baptist remains imprisoned when he sends some disciples to confirm that Jesus is indeed the Messiah. They ask Jesus a simple question, which Jesus does not answer in a simple way. “Tell John what you hear and see. . . .” We know that miracles happen throughout Jesus’ ministry. The miracles that we witness point us to the healing and restorative aspects of God’s reign. New life comes as a result of these miracles. Our text assumes that John’s disciples witnessed such miracles and returned to John with their evidence. The immediate text does not make visible those who received gifts from Jesus, but they are powerfully present here and throughout the Gospels.
I invite you to consider questions that come from the experience of these “invisible” ones: What do you see in the way of healing and restoration? How is healing happening in your community? How are you experiencing restoration?
Move beyond the individual level to that of community and mission: How will your congregation communicate the good news of Jesus to others? What stories of healing and restoration will the community tell? What healing and restoration will others experience?
God of healing, restore to us the hope that comes with the good news of Jesus Christ. Amen.