In this series we’ll reflect on the Advent Scriptures in the Revised Common Lectionary as a way of enabling us to celebrate the birth of Christ.
3 “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. 2 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. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord.4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years. (Mal. 3:1-4)
Christmas brings some messes. When I haul the Christmas decorations down from the attic, dust and insulation follow me throughout the house. When we bake cookies, flour and powdered sugar get sprinkled throughout the kitchen. When we put up the tree, little plastic needles rain down on the carpet (yes, our fake tree sheds needles just like a real tree). As a result, Christmas involves a lot of cleaning. Vacuuming the carpet. Washing the counters and dishes. Mopping the floor.
The first Christmas, Malachi declares, brought the ultimate cleaning. Like a refiner’s fire, the coming of Christ would cleanse people of all impurities. Like a fuller’s soap, the coming of Christ would wash away the grit and grime. The cleansing would be costly. Refining fire burns. Fuller’s soap rubs and scrapes. But the result would be people spic and span and prepared for God.
Give thanks today for the Christmas cleansing in your life. And, pray to God for that cleansing once more this Christmas.