Hearts Turning (21-12-22)
Psalm of Praise: Psalms 96:11-13
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad;
let the sea resound, and all that is in it.
Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them;
let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.
Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes,
he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
and the peoples in his faithfulness.
Bible Reading: Malachi 4:2,5-6
For you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stalls.
See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.
He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children,
and the hearts of the children to their parents.
I spent much of my childhood and youth on a local dairy farm and can vividly remember Malachi’s image of calves leaping around as they are released from their stalls. Calves had been born in the autumn would have spent up to six months, their entire life so far, shut inside to protect them from the wet and the cold. Then, when spring comes the gates are opened up and the calves, hesitantly at first, then with more confidence, venture out into the daylight, into the warmth and into lush green pastures. Not surprisingly they leap around with joy and explore their new-found freedom.
This is the image of hope that Malachi offers to the people of Israel at the coming of Jesus. For those who revere his name he comes to bring healing, he comes to bring freedom from oppression and fear and he comes to bring a whole new life to explore and enjoy.
I wonder if there are any aspects of your life where you feel like a calf trapped in the stalls, fears or hurts from the past that hold you back or sins where you need to know you are forgiven. Turn to Jesus, he offers healing and forgiveness; the gate is open for you to step out.
The coming Kingdom of God was announced by John the Baptist, a prophet like Elijah. The Kingdom was ‘at hand’ when Jesus began his ministry, it triumphed when Jesus died and rose again, it will be fully established when Jesus comes again. In the meantime we live in the gap.
One aspect of modern life in the gap is the rise in broken homes and dysfunctional families, sometimes caused by broken relationships, sometimes by abusive relationships, absent fathers or fathers denied access to their children.
Malachi tells us that Jesus came to turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents. Are there any family relationships you know of that are struggling at the moment? Will you hold them before God and pray that they would turn to God, rediscover his love for them and then turn to each other in love?
Lord Jesus, for those who struggle with difficult relationships, may they turn to you and to each other and find love, peace and unity.
Praise is rising, hearts are turning