2011 Advent Devotion- Tuesday, November 29

Tuesday, November 29
Matthew 21:12-17

We think of Advent as a time to prepare to celebrate again the birth of Jesus. In today’s reading, we find not a baby but a  grown-up Jesus. Jesus entered the temple and saw people selling animals to the pilgrims for their obligatory sacrifices. They exchanged Roman currency into Jewish money so the temple tax could be paid in appropriate coinage. Jesus disrupted the scene, overturning tables and chairs.

This striking story seems more appropriate at the end of Jesus’ life than at its beginning. But here it is. We wonder: Did Jesus object to all commercial activity in the temple? Or just to the exploitation of the people by those who controlled the means of ritual purity and access to God? In either case, in both cases, his actions invite the people to change, to begin again.

Its placement here, in Advent, invites us to begin again as well. Begin again in our hearts, in our relationships with God, in our relationships with those we love and in our relationships with those we do not know. Begin again to live lives walking humbly with God, seeking peace, doing justice, and loving one another. Begin again with confidence because we know who was present at the beginning . . . who awaits us at the end . . . and who holds us in the meantime.

God of the ages, may this Advent season be a time of renewal and new beginnings in our lives of faithful discipleship following Jesus, whose birth we celebrate. In his name we pray. Amen.

Rev. W. Mark Koenig, director, Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, New York, New York

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