Today’s reflection is by Deacon Karen Katamay.
“Hear the word of the Lord, because the Lord has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: ‘There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land.’” —Hosea 4:1
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” —Matthew 3:2
As we celebrate Advent and look forward to Christmas and the celebration of the birth of Jesus, the second verse today, from Matthew, is a good reminder that when Jesus came into the world, he brought the kingdom of heaven with him. These are the words of John the Baptist, whose task was to prepare people for the coming of Jesus: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” It is a reminder that we are unworthy on our own of being saved and we must repent of our sins, but through God’s loving grace we are forgiven and saved and drawn nearer to God.
God really has a unique way of doing things, doesn’t he? He brought the kingdom of heaven to earth in the form of a tiny baby. That baby then grew up to demonstrate God’s love and grace by teaching and healing others. He challenged the people of his time to be more kind and loving and to do God’s will in the world. And then he died and rose again for us, saving us from our sins and from the wrath of God that we see in the first verse today, from the prophet Hosea.
Christmas will be different this year with the pandemic, as many of us forgo or shrink our family gatherings and stay home. So that gives us more time to reflect on the meaning of Christmas and how we can still be loving and generous while staying safe from the virus. Whenever we give of our time, talents, and money to further God’s will in the world, we are helping to bring a little of God’s kingdom near for others. And the prophet Hosea’s warning then can serve as a reminder for us that God wants us to be faithful, he wants us to love, and he wants us to remember him. What better way to do that than to show our love for God and for others? Amen.