December 9, 2020

Presbyterians Today, PC(USA)
Advent Christmas Devotionals 2020
"Let Us Light Candles"
Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground.  When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.” 

John 8:2–11
Battered yet still blessed
I gently pried the angel figurine from her mouth and spoke a feeble, “Bad dog,” which I’m sure didn’t do much good in the puppy training department, especially as it was topped with a loving kiss on her head. I placed the “angel-turned-chew-toy” safely on a high shelf and went back to work in my home office.

Later that night, as I passed the shelf, I stopped and stared at the angel. While she was battered with puppy teeth marks and now missing her wings, she was still the picture of serenity with her head gracefully bowed down and hands folded in prayer. In fact, I found her even more beautiful than when I first received her as a gift. She was beautiful because I saw a reflection of myself in her battered state. I saw the reflection of those I was called to serve. I saw the reflection of all humankind — for aren’t we all bruised and battered?

Yet, no matter what scars or sins we carry, there is someone who sees beyond the surface and sees our beauty: Jesus, God’s gift to us. He came to show us how to forgive and be forgiven; and because of that grace, we, too, can be serene knowing we are worthy.

This time of year, while a multitude of the heavenly hosts sing a soaring chorus of “Glory to God in the highest,” my battered prayer angel sings a different song to me. It goes like this: Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see. This Advent, may we allow our battered selves to recognize that no matter what, God always finds us. No matter what, God keeps on loving us.

Loving God, I bring to you my battered soul. Life has been chewing me up lately, yet you see me: you see the beauty, the hope and the goodness within. Thank you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Go deeper
Recall a time when you felt battered, worn down, misunderstood or rejected. Who was the “angel” who came to your side and revived you?
Alpharetta Presbyterian Church
180 Academy Street, Alpharetta, GA 30009