Advent Devotions

Thursday, December 16

I will deal with all your oppressors
at that time.
And I will save the lame
and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
and renown in all the earth.
At that time I will bring you home,
at the time when I gather you;
for I will make you renowned and praised
among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
before your eyes, says the Lord.

Zephaniah 3:19-20

Growing up in Ohio, the county fairs and carnivals were always a big deal. When I was younger, my family and I would go every year, riding the rides and checking out the booths. But as we got older, my brother and I would spend an evening or two with our friends. We would eat funnel cakes and cotton candy and wait in the long lines for the more thrilling rides. Despite everything the fair had to offer, I personally loved the games the best. Sure, I knew that they were designed for the customer to lose, but I would still save up my money to try my hand at the ring toss or the balloon darts.

One year, I won big. It was at the booth where you shot basketballs from a stripe on the floor marked ridiculously far from the hoop, and the ball has to fall into the hoop in the most perfect way for it to have a chance of going in. After spending about thirty-five dollars, I had promised myself that this would be my last shot of the night—and it was perfect.

Proudly, I carried the stuffed bear back to my house; proudly, I displayed it on my dresser in my room; proudly, I took the bear to college where I proudly told everyone who would listen the legend of the basketball shot at the county fair.

At some point, it stopped being a source of pride and became something else. You see, it was hard being away from home, making new friends, and learning to live on my own. That bear comforted me by reminding me of love, of security, of joy, and of happiness.

When I read this passage, I don’t hear the pride or the victory of a people who triumphantly squash their enemies. No, I hear a loving and comforting God who declares that “I will bring you home,” and that is the future we look toward with hope. The God who chose to be with us, especially in the form of a baby, reminds us that our faith is not an arrogant one but one of humility, love, and comfort.

Closing Prayer

God, keep us humble until we return home to you into the comfort of your love and care. Amen.

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