Dorothy Nickel Friesen is a retired pastor and area conference minister. She currently volunteers as a grant writer for nonprofit organizations, serves as a consultant to pastors and congregations and will publish her memoir in 2018. She lives in Newton, Kansas, attends Bethel College Mennonite Church, and enjoys dark chocolate, afternoon naps and trips to the Colorado mountains.
Listen to this conversation among biblical voices. What do you hear? What do you pay attention to? What promise do you embrace?
Voice #1: Isaiah, the prophet (Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11): “I tried my best to give them hope. I claimed to be anointed by God. That should have made them listen to me. Usually it was the king that was anointed—not a prophet! So I got their attention. They were a discouraged lot. They were returning from slavery, poor, downhearted and discouraged. What hope was there for them after oppression? God’s Spirit was the good news of starting over. Even those who were mourning, even those who were brokenhearted (and who wouldn’t be after their exile?), even those were promised gladness. They would plant crops, repair ruined cities and clean things up. I tried my best to speak words of promise.”
Voice #2: Mary, the teenager (Luke 1:46b-55): “You think it’s easy being young? You think I wanted to have a baby when I was just figuring out my role in the family? You think I dreamed of being a mother? Yet, I knew this was real. I truly felt something in my body. I truly felt something in my spirit, too. When I visited my relative, Elizabeth, I knew this was for real. She was so comforting and encouraging. She just made me sing! Maybe nobody would hear me, but I was just bursting with some of the prophet’s words that I kept on singing. Things are going to change. Those who are in power are not going to have the last word. Those who are poor are going to catch a break. Those who think they are winning are in for a big surprise! I tried my best to sing words of promise.”
Voice #3: John, the baptizer (John 1:6-8, 19-28): “So I have a big mouth! So I live out in the wilderness! So I wear weird clothes and eat insects! So what! People are paying attention to me—and I am making progress in this new kingdom business. Don’t call me Elijah or a prophet! I do have a message and I am happy to be the announcer. See, I’m baptizing. But look again and listen again. I’m telling you there is someone coming who is greater and more powerful. I am not the Messiah! Get over that notion. But pay attention. Things are going to change. I am not going to shut up. Listen up! Things are going to change-big time! Get ready! There is a lot of good news and I am preparing the way. I am trying my best to speak words of promise.”
Voice #4: Paul, the missionary (I Thessalonians 5:16-24): “I simply can’t be everywhere, so I write letters. The group in Thessalonica is getting hit by the local authorities because of this new Jesus movement. The new believers are also disturbing their community as they upset the established religion. Yikes! I want those folks to keep on doing the right thing—praying without ceasing, upholding the teachings of the prophets, keeping a hold on the good, and always seeking justice. I must keep reminding them that this is the will of God in Christ Jesus. They need a lot of reminding and I yearn to be with them, but a letter must suffice. I am trying my best to speak words of promise.”
Read previous Advent reflections and sign up to receive our 2017 daily Advent devotionals in your e-mail inbox.