Author: Kathyrn Powell
Reflection: v. 2 ‘But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap’
I’m imagining God doing laundry. I’m not talking about modern throw-clothes-in-a-machine-and-wait laundry. As I read Malachi, I’m thinking about ancient laundry practices. Soaking clothes for hours, scraping away dirt with rocks, twisting and rinsing each piece. I’m thinking about the toll on the body of this work, the attention to the grit and the process, the strength required to carry and wring out wet clothes, the patience in waiting for them to dry. This is not a distant God, but one who is actively engaged in a gritty, everyday reality.
Just before today’s passage in Malachi, we hear the Israelites question ‘Where is the God of Justice?’ Malachi says the God we are seeking will come, and God will come as close to us as soap to laundry in the wash.
This is the God of justice. A God who washes away every barrier between us and God’s self. A God who patiently and thoroughly restores each piece of God’s creation. Who can stand in God’s presence and remain unchanged? This the nature of encounter with God: transformation. A returning to who we really, truly are, without the soiled stories the world tells about us. A cleansing of old stories stuck to us, that we cannot get rid of ourselves, that are not part of the original, intricate, stitching and weaving of who we are as beloved children of God.
In Advent we anticipate the birth of Christ—Love incarnate—who transformed our world through his witness. Christ, who also likely washed his own clothes. Who used metaphors of breadmaking, farming, and fishing to describe the Kingdom of Heaven. Christ, fully God and fully human, as near to our everyday as we are and declaring it holy.
Where is the God of justice? The God of justice is with us in the grit of life. And if there’s one thing we can trust, it’s that all will be transformed by God’s presence. The God we are seeking is, was, and will be, God with us—Immanuel. This is our hope and the covenant that we delight in this Advent as we anticipate the presence of Christ.
Prayer: God of Justice, be with me and transform me.