Here are some reflections on Sunday, December 3’s sermon for the first Sunday of Advent, based on Daniel 3
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
When life brings demands and challenge what do you let go of? What do you hold onto?
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego faced demands and challenges of the culture and society around them, and help fast and strong to their faith. They were among the group of refugees that were living in a community and nation that expected them to live as they were told – believe in the gods of the time and to walk away from their faith and trust in God.
King Nebechednezar created a huge statue … 90 feet tall and 9 feet wide. And Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego along with their family and friends were living in exile in Nebechednezar’s kingdom when he decreed that every time you hear the music from all the instruments of the land, bow down and worship this statue. (I actually wonder if the repetition of the music and instruments were actually to reframe the peoples worship process as they had used these instruments to worship YHWH, but now, now that you hear them, worship this statue).
Alienate your God and your faith and focus on me. These three men stood firm in their faith and trust in God and refused to bow and worship. The King throws them in the fiery furnace, and looks in and sees FOUR individuals WALKING around. They went in as a group of three and were bound. And walked out free. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego withstood the demands of culture, remained true to their faith and trusted that they would be ok. They stood firm and faithful and God not only saved them from the fire, but was with them in the fire. He unbound them from the things that were confining them.
Here’s a couple questions I ask you to consider, you personally, not your child, your spouse, the person sitting next to you, the person who’s not here…but you. I invite you to reflect on these over this Advent journey and look for the promise of hope.
Who is your King Nebuchadnezzar today? Who is demanding that you do things their way? Who is demanding that you walk away from your faith and forget about God?
Where in your life, what cultural items are you bowing to that is drawing your eyes and your heart away from God? Demanding your time and focus, to take away from your time with God? Is it the shopping? The baking? Work? Internet? Television? Is it the need for more money so you work more? Is it things?
What fires are you facing? What is threatening your life or testing your faith? What cultural piece has you bound that you are feeling under fire, alone and unable to move? Maybe its cancer or addictions, maybe pornography, maybe relationships, maybe it’s work…maybe it’s doubt or your past.
Where are you waiting? Are you waiting in the fire for Jesus to come along and save you? Are you on the edge of the fire, watching and waiting to see if your loved ones survive the fire? Are there others around you waiting with you? Or are you feeling like you are alone drowning and getting burned.
Over these next few weeks, I invite you to spend a few minutes each day, reading this story…all of it, or just the ending where we read that they survive. Pause in your day, read the item on the reverse advent calendar, offer a prayer, reflect where you are and ask God to help you remain in your faith…to save you from the fires, to unbind you and free you to keep on living.
Here’s the thing… regardless of where you are, know that God’s grace – is wider, broader, deeper, stronger, than the tug of the culture. Don’t walk away because you feel you might be so far over the edge that there’s no point, allow yourself this Advent season, to reflect on your faith journey and remember that even in the midst of the madness, God is with you, making it so you will be able to walk away un-singed, unharmed, without even a trace of smell of the fire you walked through…because no matter what it seems like now, the promise of hope is that things will be ok, remain in your faith, remain true to who God has called you to be, how God has called you to live, and know God and God’s people are with you … amen.