Friday, Second Week in Advent

by Matthew B. Harper

Thus you witness against yourselves that you are the sons of those who murdered prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. (Matthew 23:31-32)

If God were to hold the full measure of our wrongdoing against us, who could possibly stand? And if the sins of our ancestors were added to that tally, we would be condemned indeed. These words of Christ do not sound much like a welcome, and come instead as a warning. It is a common expression in here that if we were to be sentenced for every crime we had committed, then we would all be serving multiple life sentences.

During this time of year we like to throw parties. As a free man my family often threw big and wonderful parties during the holidays. Before each party we spent days cleaning the house, polishing the furniture , and washing the crystal. Preparing our house was a way to honor the coming guests.

Unfortunately many men in here recognize the honor and majesty of Christ, without recognizing the loving mercy. They know very well their crimes and sins, and insist that their lives would need serious spiritual housecleaning before Christ would be willing to enter in. But Christ loves us so much that he enters our lives when they are broken and messy. He comes to the site of the party weeks in advance, when the dirty laundry is on the floor and the dishes have spots. He loves us so much that he comes, and then he helps clean up the mess we have made of our lives.

These words of warning are also words of invitation. There is no cleaning that we could do to clean up our sins, or the ‘measure of our fathers.’ In the midst of brokenness and strife, God speaks warning, but brings healing.

Lo! The Lamb, so expected, comes with pardon down from heaven; let us haste, with tears of sorrow, one and all to be forgiven; (Hymn 59)

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