Tuesday, Advent, Week Three

Zephaniah 3:1-2, 9-13

The third week of Advent continues to offer us challenging texts, texts that don’t yield their meaning on first reading. Today our text comes from the prophet Zephaniah. Zephaniah is called, as all prophets are, to see the world as God sees it. There is a crisis looming for the people in Jerusalem as Babylon gains power and threatens to destroy all that is held sacred. In words that are not the easiest to hear or understand, God takes Jerusalem to task for her lack of faithfulness.

Trouble is coming to the rebellious,
the defiled, the tyrannical city!
She would never listen to the call,
would never learn the lesson;
she has never trusted in the Lord,
never drawn near to her God.

I am put in mind of my school days when some misdemeanour had occurred, the teacher got angry and then the whole class was punished. It was a heavy feeling that certainly coloured the rest of the day and possibly the rest of the week too. There was no such thing as negotiating with the trouble makers and letting them know that they had spoilt things for everyone. You just had to hope that they didn’t do it again.

Thankfully the Zephaniah text is not all gloom. The last few verses give us at least a glimmer of hope:

‘In your midst I will leave
a humble and lowly people,
and those who are left in Israel
will seek refuge in the Lord.’

So God knows that at least a few have lived in faithfulness. This is a theme taken up by several of the prophets: God sees and honours the faithful remnant. Perhaps we would all hope to be considered part of that remnant? There is a similar theme at work in the New Testament where the lowly find a special place in the heart and mind of God.

Holding on to what we know to be true and right isn’t always easy. Our desire to follow the right path can be strengthened each day by our small choices. Choices that may seem too tiny to matter can build a solid foundation for that day when God asks us to make a leap of faith and say ‘Yes’.

How can you be faithful this Advent?