Friday 11 December

Reveal among us the light of your presence, that we may behold your power and glory.


Isaiah 48.17 -19 | Ps 1 | Matthew 11.16-19

Jesus with his friends

"The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners'." Matthew 11.19.

Mighty Mercy
—John Piper

Why did He choose a northern maid
From Nazareth, who had to trade
Her Galilee for Judah just
To get Messiah where He must
Be born? A strange and roundabout
Procedure for a God, no doubt,
Who values His efficiency
And rules the world from sea to sea!
Why not a girl from Bethlehem?
Well half the girls in town would stem
From David's line. And carpenters
Aplenty there could bear the slurs
And gossip on a virgin got
with child, who blushed and said she'd not
Once kissed her man this whole year past.
Why not? Because God's power is vast,
And in one little virgin birth
His sovereign joy and mighty mirth
In saving us from evil bent
Could never, never rest content.
Instead He turned and set His sight
To spangle Rome with all His might;
And took a girl from Galilee
To magnify His sovereignty.
And made the Roman king conspire
With God, to serve a purpose higher
Than he or any in the realm
Could see—a stroke to overwhelm
A few with faith and cause their heart
To know the truth, at least in part,
That, though God loves efficiency
And rules the world from sea to sea,
He does not go from here to there
By shortest routes to save His fare.
He'd rather start in Galilee,
Then pass a law in Rome, you see,
To get the child down south at length,
And magnify His sovereign strength.
God rules the flukes of history
To see that Micah's prophecy
Comes true. Why did He choose a maid
From Nazareth? Perhaps she prayed
That endless mercy might abound
And take the longer way around.
The mighty mercy we adore
As we light advent candle four.
Desiring God.


Merciful God,
we place before you the concerns of our lives
and the sufferings of the world.
In the midst of scepticism and doubt of your loving being,
kindle your light in the hearts of all people
to feel your presence,
to trust in your faithful covenant,
to have faith in your promises of salvation,
to believe in the coming of the Messiah, the Anointed One, in whose name we pray.

Vladimir Pleshakov (Russia, 1957 -). Psalm 1, "Blessed is the man …", from his All-Night Vigil. Aoede Consort, dir. Dan Foster, Carnegie Hall, 22 January 2012. (Picture of Pleshakov playing at the same concert.)

May the Lord, when he comes, find us watching and waiting. Amen.