Advent: Born to Set the People Free

Ezekiel 36:24-28

I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. Then you shall live in the land that I gave to your ancestors; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

As we come to the first Saturday of Advent, we remember lighting the Candle of Hope. We pause once again to reflect on the hope of the coming Christ. Hope which will continue to carry us, motivate us, and challenge us throughout the Advent Season and beyond.

Our devotional passage today, at the very beginning, invites each of us to experience the hope of God. God promises to God’s people a new land, a new place, a new start: restoration for each person of the community. The community is shown to include all peoples – no exceptions are made by God. We are all welcomed into the community of God. You are welcomed by God. You are desired by God. Take hope.

God offers further hope with three promises made to each person welcomed into community. Rest hopefully in each of these promises. Know God has made these promises to you and with you.

First, God promises to cleanse you. You will be made clean by God. God will nurture into the ways of living of Godself. God will strengthen you in the characteristics of Godself. You will be made anew by God, continually. Live in hope for God is continuing to make you new.

Second, God will not stop at making you clean, but will give you a new heart. God will take away your “heart of stone” in place of a new “heart of flesh.” God will make your very being new. Your former perception, interpretation, and interactions of the world are no longer the extent of your being. God will expand your capacity to love, accept, include, and be in community with other like you and unlike you. Your spirit will be changed for good. Walk hopefully that you will be given a new heart of flesh.

Third, God will put God’s spirit within you. God will give God’s spirit to be a part of your being, innately. God’s very essence is promised to be a part of you. You will have a piece of God’s spirit as a part of you. No matter where you go, you will be in the presence of God’s spirit. No matter what situation you find yourself in, you will be in the presence of God’s spirit. In all things, in all places, go all people, to yourself, God will send God’s spirit to be with you to comfort you and keep you. Move in hope that you will always be in the presence of God by God’s spirit always being in you.

As you reflect this day, remember that God has promised to renew you, reenergize you, and be with you. Be renewed with hope. Be reenergized by hope. Be found in hope.

O God of hope, stir within us hope from your spirit. Guide our leaps, our sprints, and our rests in your hope. Grant us each hope of spreading kindness, sharing love, expressing mercy, and giving peace to this world. Give us hopeful imaginations for justice in our world and renewing rest to live out that justice. Amen.

Josh Raugh

Hey, y’all! I’m a first year, first semester McAfee student seeking my MDiv as well as being a Glen Stassen Scholar. I was born and raised in Bon Air, Virginia (right outside of Richmond) and attended Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia. I received degrees in English and Religious Studies with minors in Philosophy, Ethics, and Ancient Greek from R-MC. I have served as a summer camp counselor for 5 summers in Virginia and as an Associate Pastor of Youth, Children, and Families. I’m excited for my time to be at McAfee and learn alongside this amazing family!