Gifts are wrapped with shiny adornments, placed under a serenely lit tree. Other special packages are on their way, sailing across the country in the back of a cold delivery truck. We’ve done our best to prepare for this season, to gather ingredients for cookies, to have our lists in order, preparing outdoor skating rinks, meanwhile, missing the traditions of advent programs, Christmas carols and family gatherings.
When traditions are taken away, what is left for us to give?
Our traditions provide us a means of blessing and serving others through hospitality, encouraging hearts through giving gifts, worshiping the Father through the talents He has given. Now, many of these means are hampered.
What should I bring before the Lord?
‘What should I bring before the Lord,
when I come to bow before God on high?
Should I come before Him with burnt offerings,
With year old calves?
Would the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
Or with ten thousands streams of oil?
Should I give my firstborn for my transgression,
The child of my body for my own sin?’
Mankind, He has told you what is good
And what the Lord requires of you:
to act justly,
to love faithfulness,,
And to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:6-8, HCSB
Wise men came from the East, bringing gifts to adorn the King. A long journey through deserts and plains to arrive, just to catch a glimpse of him, to see with their eyes what Promise looked like in human flesh.
In the days of Micah, there was also a long, perilous expedition, where promise was only a seed for the very distant future. This journey was birthed in shame and disgrace, as Jerusalem was destroyed, and it’s people sent in exile to Babylon. Promise would be a hope in dark times.
One journey culminated in seeing the promise, another journey could only dream.
The promise ever-present through both the times of judgement and the times of fulfillment, but in the darkness Micah asks the question, what offering do we give?
His answer is a beautiful invitation to return to the life God had called them to. He lists calves, rams and oil as sacrifices traditionally required of Israel, then the offering of a son as a pagan ritual, reflecting the deep idolatry to which Israel lent herself. Even in keeping her religious traditions, Israel’s heart was far from the Lord.
No, religious tradition, nor rituals were the offering that God was looking for. For the psalms tell us, “you do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; You are not pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. God, You will not despise a broken and humbled heart” (Ps 51:16-17).
Broken hearts are something we relate to these days.
And here lies the invitation to be broken and find peace. To remember our deliverance, and worship. To humble ourselves and surrender our lives to love and follow Him.
What is good is to do what’s right. The Lord says “preserve justice and do what is right, for My salvation is coming soon, and My righteousness will be revealed” (Is 56:1). Even as we do good to others, we are anticipating a coming salvation, the coming of God’s righteous reign.
What is good is to love faithfulness. The word for faithfulness is the Hebrew word hesed which is often used in the Old Testament to refer to the steadfast love of God. We love His faithfulness to us, how he rescued us, and has saved us from our bondage to sin.
What is good is to walk humbly with God. “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you except to fear the Lord your God by walking in all His ways, to love Him, and to worship the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul?” (Deut 10:12). To surrender our hearts and souls to His ways for everything our day holds for us, whatever this season brings.
The invitation to put our broken hearts at the feet of Jesus, all the pieces we find scattered about, will find their repair in Jesus, as we humble ourselves before Him and surrender our lives to Him. Surrender in everything that isn’t what it should be, when it’s not going the way we want, when we feel the discontent in our souls.
Birthed in remembrance,
rooted in the Word.
sustained by grace.
A broken heart, surrendered to His perfect love.
Will you give your broken heart to Jesus? Will you surrender yourself to His ways?