Friends! Today is a really exciting day for us. "Officially" speaking (or at least chronologically speaking) this is the final day in the Old Testament. You are about to read the final words of the Old Testament. How cool is that?! It's a very quick read so take a few moments to give yourself some praise for being so amazing and keeping up with the readings. Let's see how the Old Testament ends and what hope it leaves for our Jewish brothers and sisters and what hope is answered for those of us that follow Christ.
Scripture to Read
Questions to Consider
What does this teach me about God?
Is this a satisfying ending to the Old Testament? Why or why not?
What evidence do I see of Jesus in this long awaited Messiah?
- My Thoughts -
There is so much good in this text that I don't want to weigh it down too much with my own blabbing. There's the declaration from God right at the beginning that the messenger is coming who will restore the covenant. Can you imagine the feeling for the Israelites in this moment? To have hope for better days be answered with a prayer? It reminds me of the first day when the vaccines were approved and the first line of delivery trucks were leaving the Phizer campus. A number of clergy colleagues shared the video of it and said it brought them to tears. It made them think of all who were lost along the way and all who will be saved as a result. It was the first day that Joyce and I were able to pose the question "can we open again soon?" and just yesterday I got to look out from the pulpit and see familiar faces once again. The ending of Malachi feels exactly like where we are now. Hope turned to promised deliverance.
I also want to be respectful to our Jewish friends and point out that for them the promised messiah had not yet come. The promised messiah is not a symbol of Elijah (Jesus who is law and prophet (Moses and Elijah)) but literally the return of Elijah himself. If you remember from 2 Kings 2 Elijah does not die but instead goes up to heaven on a chariot of fire. (Also, Moses never officially dies at the end of Deuteronomy leading many to speculate that is why those two show up with Jesus at the transfiguration) Because Elijah is still "alive" in heaven faithful Jews anticipate his return as the declared Messiah. And so they wait with eyes looking to heaven with eager anticipation.
For Christians, this is officially where our faith branches away as we believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the promised messenger who would restore the covenant between God and people. To read Malachi with Jesus in mind changes the story a little, at least for me. The story ends in a promise of coming wrath if we don't change which leaves the story a little sour in my mind. Like I said in my sermon yesterday, Jesus does not appear to the disciples and rebuke them or chastise them for their failures but instead offers words of love and affirmation. IF Jesus is the promised Messiah presented in Malachi than something changed in God's heart between this time of declared consequence and his time with people on Earth. Reading the Gospel's with this perspectives asks us not to only answer the question "Who is Jesus" but also, "How do we change God when God lives among us?"
While we may not yet be beginning The New Testament yet I just want to take a final moment to say how proud I am of each of you and celebrate this journey with you.
Praying the Hymns
Our prayer for today is hymn is just so perfect as we consider the question of "who is the Messiah?" as our hymn is "What Child is This?" No matter where you are in your faith journey whether you are a devout follower, new to the faith, or your faith is wavering I invite you to answer ask the questions posed in this hymn as you make this prayer your own
(So this version does not line up with the lyrics in the book but it's Andrea Buccheli doing a duet with Mary Blidge and it gives me goosebumps every time I listen to it so if you don't plan on singing with the video and just want something spiritual to inspire you than this is definitely the one to listen to)
This is the version if you want to sing with the official lyrics
1. What child is this who, laid to rest, on Mary's lap is sleeping? Whom angels greet with anthems sweet, while shepherds watch are keeping?
Refrain: This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing; haste, haste to bring him laud, the babe, the son of Mary.
2. Why lies he in such mean estate where ox and ass are feeding? Good Christians, fear, for sinners here the silent Word is pleading. (Refrain)
3. So bring him incense, gold, and myrrh, come, peasant, king, to own him; the King of kings salvation brings, let loving hearts enthrone him. (Refrain)