Advent devotional: O Adonai

This devotional was prepared by Pastor Aaron in connection with our Advent sermon series on the O'Antiphons.

O Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel,
who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush
and gave him the law on Sinai:
Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.

Psalm 106
Exodus 3:1-6
Acts 7:20-36

My friend, Pat, walked beside me nervously as we approached the church building. Pat slipped on a patch of ice, momentarily losing his balance, and yelled out an expletive.

“Oh, sorry, Aaron,” Pat said to me, then looking to heaven. “Sorry God …  I don’t want him to strike me with lightning or anything.” In our years of friendship in middle school and high school, Pat had yelled out hundreds of curse words. But something about being in church and in the presence of God and His people had Pat concerned about vulgar language.

Later that evening, Pat uncomfortably looked around the sanctuary as my youth pastor shared a message from the Bible. But when the worship team began to play music, Pat settled in his seat and dropped his head into his hands, swaying back and forth.

As we drove home, I talked with Pat about some of the problems he was having in life and what he had just experienced at church.

When I pulled into his driveway to drop him off, I asked Pat if I could pray for him. I laid hands on him and prayed, “Come Holy Spirit.” And what happened next I will never forget. Immediately what felt like electricity flowed through my arms and hands. Pat’s body began to shake, and he began to weep. When I was done praying, I asked him how he felt. He described a strange “energy” like he had never felt before. I told him it was the Spirit of God and He made Himself real to Pat because God loves him.

Pat had come to church with fear of lightning bolts of punishment from a distant but powerful God. Instead, he encountered the electric power of God’s love for Him.

Today’s O Antiphon celebrates Adonai, the powerful Lord, ruler and judge of all creation, who draws near to us. He is a God whose power doesn’t distance Himself from us but draws Him as close as the flames of the burning bush for Moses and the tongues of fire above the heads of ordinary men and women at Pentecost.

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” -Exodus 3:5

One of my favorite poems is from Elizabeth Barret Browning:
“Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.”

In what seemingly ordinary places is God waiting to meet you?
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