Monday of Advent IV – Prayer of the Week

Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come and help us by Your might, that the sins which weigh us down may be quickly lifted by Your grace and mercy; for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

He came to church almost every Sunday, but it was a struggle. His body did not obey his wishes; he could not walk. About the only thing that he could control was his hand, and he used it to manipulate the little joystick which directed the wheelchair in which he was bound. His smile was quick, and his eyes told you that you were in the presence of a bright personality. But he could not speak, at least not clearly enough that many could understand what he said. Many thought he was intellectually disabled, but he was not. He could not communicate.

We have too often limited sin to being naughty, imagining that God is like Santa in the silly song who keeps a list of those who have been naughty and nice. The Bible is far more wholistic and inclusive. Read a little in Leviticus. Start at chapter 12. These are the rules for a sin offering in the Torah. Notice when such an offering is demanded: the birth of a child, harvest time, recovery from a skin disease, burying your dead relative, even mildew in your house. If mildew is a sin, the entire Northwest must stand condemned! What is going on here? Each of these things, the pain of having a baby, the hard work of harvest, disease, death, and even the little battles we fight against nature all remind us that we and this world are not right. That is a much better definition of sin than simply “naughty.”

My friend whose body was broken by a neurological disease bore a terrible burden. His issue was not moral, but it was a result of humanity’s fall into sin all the same. In the OT, when people encountered that broken reality in pain, exhaustion, disease, death, etc., God told them to bring a lamb and sacrifice it. That lamb would point them to what God would do about this problem in Christ. John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and declared him to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, including all those things for which lambs were sacrificed according to Leviticus. We pray for God to stir up his power to remove the sins which burden us. I think of my friend bound to his chair. I pray that God would stir up his power and quickly lift that burden from my friend.

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