Sunday, December 9, 2018
by Vernon Gramling
See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly
come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the
Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is
like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the
descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in
righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old
and as in former years.
My best friend’s husband, Nick, is in the middle of a bone marrow transplant. He has a leukemia-like
disease that had been destroying his bone marrow. Slowly but inexorably, his immune system, his
clotting times and his ability to provide oxygen to his body were deteriorating. His body was failing him.
If he was to have hope, he had to literally endure a refining fire. His old marrow had to be destroyed in
order for new life to have a chance. He had to give up his last bit of safety and become completely
vulnerable. As I speak, he does not know if he will survive the risk. He only knows that the old way led
Nick’s predicament is our own. Our human values are not sufficient for our lives. Self-sufficiency and
self-protection will fail us. We may have short-term success but ultimately our ways lead to death. Our
lives become a far cry from what the Lord requires: “To act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our
Emanuel offers new life but he asks a lot. In a painfully dangerous world where bombs are sent through
the mail and where worshipers are gunned down, he asks that we trust him. He asks that we love one
I pray for Nick. I pray for myself. And I pray for all of us to endure the darkness as we wait for the Lord.
Let it be so.
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