December 14th Advent Devotional

Advent Ashes

Manda Truchinski

Malachi 4:1-5

My state has been on fire for quite some time. It has left us with many places that look like the scene prophet Malachi describes. It’s complete destruction.

Everything is gone. The only thing that is left is scorched earth, covered in layers of toxic ash.

Before, when the climate wasn’t so hot and dry for so long, we could manage the fires more easily. We could contain them or direct them to remain in the wild places. There, such scorched destruction can look beautiful – a cleansing fire that is necessary for the rebirth of the ecosystem.

But when the fire is in our homes, schools, and churches, we don’t see the beauty. We only see loss, pain, and grief. This is the part of God’s promises (salvation) that I find most difficult. That we could ever dance with joy on ashes like these.

All my brokenness and cringe-worthy moments are not reasons to celebrate. Even more difficult to imagine is dancing with joy at the loss of things I loved – my family, my achievements, or my reputation.

Malachi doesn’t scrimp on telling us how hard it will be to take part in God’s economy. He doesn’t pull any punches but he doesn’t lie to us either. The new kingdom that is coming will be a difficult change for us. The Christmas promise is that God is with us. And there is new life even in the midst of toxic ash.

Advent is a time to prepare for letting go of the things that hold us back from new life in Christ. This Advent, make a list of all the things that keep you from experiencing the way of Christ. Then burn it.


Pastor Manda Truchinski is currently serving Christ the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in San Jose, CA, a congregation of the ELCA.

©2018 by individual authors and Facebook Narrative Lectionary Group. This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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