Read: Zephaniah 3:14-16

We are accustomed to celebrating after the fact—when the game has been won, when the
couple has walked down the aisle, when the diploma is in hand. How easily we rejoice in the
accomplishments of the past and present, and what joy we experience at these milestone
moments! These are times where we naturally reflect back on God’s faithfulness and presence.

What would it be like to instead heed the words of this passage, to celebrate and shout over
what is yet to come?

Here God’s promises are full and grandiose—the abolishment of
judgment, and the absence of fear. And yet these are such dominating emotions when
experienced in the present; often when we think of the future we can’t help but look through
eyes filled with worry and concern. We can easily become overwhelmed by the what-ifs of our
lives as we look forward into the unknown.
Here [IN THE PASSAGE] God promises that we need not live in fear; he vows that both our individual and
communal futures are in his hands. Despite our many troubles and worries, he asks us to
celebrate now.

Can we begin to take God at his word and celebrate a vibrant, unblemished
future even in the midst of our present troubles and concerns?

Can we take comfort in the
ways in which he’s been faithful to us in the past, and allow that to fill our present with peace?

Prayer: O Lord, in this season of expectation teach us to rejoice in your promises now. As we look to how
the Advent season culminates in such a surprising fulfillment of your promise through the birth
of Jesus, help us to see a model of expectant celebration. May the hope of future freedom from
fear and judgment bring us present peace and joy.
Written by Bonnie Chen, 2011 Newbigin fellow