Monday, December 14, 2009

Monday in Advent 3

Zechariah 1:7-17
v. 14 So the angel who talked with me said to me, Proclaim this message: Thus says the Lord of hosts; I am very jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion.

This week we read from the prophet Zechariah. Zechariah and Haggai were contemporaries, both prophesying during the restoration period as the exiles were returning from Babylon and Jerusalem and Judah being rebuilt. The specific dates for Zechariah are 520-518 B.C.E. This was a time of great ferment. Great questions hung in the air: what priorities in rebuilding? how to rule Judah? what was the peoples relationship to God after the experience of abandonment in Babylon?

Zechariah tells the people that God is "very jealous for Jerusalem and Zion." Not infrequently in the Bible, jealousy is attributed to God, a very curious thing because we normally think of jealousy as a negative thing. Yet here it is clearly a sign of God's steadfast love for his people, his overwhelming commitment to them so that even after the extreme punishment of the exile, he cannot let them go. He will work for their well-being.

Advent is a time of turning back, re-turning to God in preparation for the celebration of Jesus' birth. One of the dynamics of this returning should be the knowledge that we are returning to a jealous God, jealous for our attention and love, the one who wants to be with us, our Emmanuel.

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