2nd Sunday of Advent
Malachi 3:1-4 (NRSV)
See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight -- indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?
For he is like a refiner's fire and like fullers' soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.
I am so grateful that the Lord is a refining fire and fuller's soap.
Fuller's soap was used to clean, purify, and bleach wool so that it could be made useful for clothing.
Apparently the Lord does something similar in cleaning us up! God sends us through the fire, so that everything unlike God is consumed in the flames and then God scrubs us up with fuller's soap to make us useful partners for God's Kingdom work.
And what is that Kingdom work? Well, we are sent as evangelists, or people who share the good news message. We go out as messengers, to prepare the way of the Lord into the hearts of God's people. We go ahead of Jesus, as a voice crying in the wilderness, "Prepare the way of the Lord!"
By being unashamed of telling others that we've been through the fire and washed with the Lord's fuller soap, we bear witness to the fact that God loves and saves all people.
One doesn't have to "get his or her life together," to get into relationship with God. One doesn't have to "do anything" to win God's unconditional love and favor...
When we really look at today's scripture, we recognize that it is GOD who does all of the WORK. God sends us through the flames and God shines us up! All we have to do is submit to the work of God's hands and heart and God does the rest!
In Jesus Christ, God did all the work. Jesus came, lived, died, and rose again in victory, to show forth God's love and amazing grace toward us. Jesus' resurrection makes it possible for us to look forward to our own resurrections into eternal life.
How I love our Jesus who has made it possible for us to offer our lives in righteousness unto our God!
Be at peace, dear ones, we have been made righteous through the blood of the Lamb.
Dear God, thank you for cleaning me up and turning me around. Help me to boldly share this good news with others. Amen.