November 26, 2012

Flood of Mercy

By Bob Yoder, campus pastor

Welcome to Goshen College’s on-line devotionals for the 2012 Advent season! Our theme this year, taken from the Mennonite Church USA worship resources found in Leader magazine, is “Flood of Mercy.” Every Monday an author will introduce the sub-theme, whereas the following weekdays authors will reflect on a specific Scripture passage. The theme for this week, Advent 1, is “Wading in Faithfulness.”


In its life-giving power and in its sometimes frightening clean sweep, the image of a flood fits well with this season, which at the same time calls us to repentance and invites us into new life. If we’re honest, we have to admit that we sometimes hang on to things that don’t matter or last, things that may even get in the way of what God wants to do in us, in our communities and in our world — things we may need to let go. Yet God’s work is not about wiping things out simply to wipe them out. Even painful and difficult clearing away is for the sake of something bigger and truer, and it is always grounded in God’s overwhelming mercy, in God’s care and concern for all that God has made.

The Scriptures for this Advent season include many water images. In the Bible, water usually means two opposite things: destruction and life. Desert-dwellers realized how crucial water was for survival. No doubt that the “righteous branch” announced by the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 33:15) won’t live long without regular watering. Yet while water is absolutely necessary for life, it can also be scary. The panic is there where “the roaring of the sea and the waves” causes people to “faint from fear and foreboding of what is coming upon the world” (Luke 21:25-26). We can imagine the scene; we’ve seen videos of floods and tsunamis carrying away everything in their wake — or we’ve lived through this kind of destruction ourselves.

Sometimes I struggle to keep my head above waters in the “flood of life.” I wish I could be merely wading in knee-deep stuff, but instead, it feels as if the only visible part of me is the brown hair on top of my head. Where is the snorkel?!?! Oxygen tank anyone?!? But then I hear a voice saying, “Bob, put your feet down and stand up. Take my yoke/lifesaver…”


O God, help me wade in your faithfulness to me. Allow me to consider how you both comfort and disturb so that I may be more faithful to you.



Comments (14)

  1. A great way to get started. Thanks for your message.

    Reginald knight November 26, 2012 |
  2. I would look at what you shared from a different angle….not that I maybe more faithful to Him ….I would see how faithful He has been to me to hold my head up and/or He is my life saver and/or He walks on water and I am in Him. Thanks for your thoughts as it made me think too.

    Nancy McAvoy November 26, 2012 |
  3. This is very timely for me. We lost our home in a terrible storm in July and we have learned what really matters and is important. We are living in an apartment now and Thanksgiving was different, but everyone was there and that was good. Pray for us as we continue to struggle with the insurance company.

    Ruth Jones November 26, 2012 |
    • I will pray for you Ruth. God shows us what really matters. Since 2005 I’ve seen my daughters lose their health, then me lose their health, lost my father, 3 part time jobs that i loved, then my wife’s health deteriorated. She was put out of the church we had served as missionaries for the previous 8 years, so we lost the fellowship and people we had invested in.Then i lost my mental health and after my wife divorced me. these last 3 years I’ve seen The Lord restore my health and has given me a job I love but I miss my wife terribly and she doesn’t allow me access to my daughters. But God is wonderful and I’ve come to know him and His love for me in a much deeper way.

      Colin F November 26, 2012 |
  4. I like the analogy of being over my head above waters in the “flood of life.” It seems someone or something always swamps my energies. I will make it a goal to work this Advent at listening to the voice of God, to take the lifesaver from Him that will pull me through.

    Mary Hughes November 26, 2012 |
  5. After surviving ‘Sandy’ (I live in the northeast) Flood of Mercy is well, interesting! But the scriptural take on it is true. Water is both life-giving as well as a force to be reckoned with. Why does it beckon us so? On a beautiful summer day, the sounds of the water soothe. Even the smell of salt water beckons. The feel of the warm sand between toes. But when a storm engulfs us (as Sandy did)? OMG. It’s absolutely frightening. So yes, there’s the dichotomy. Life-giving and fearsome indeed. Let’s proceed…

    Debbie Lackowitz November 26, 2012 |
  6. Why the rush? 1. Advent Sunday is only next Sunday. Now even our churches start the Christmas season early .

    Barbel Goertz November 26, 2012 |
    • Good question Barb! You are right that Advent begins on Dec. 2, this coming Sunday. The reason that we begin our Advent devotions the Monday before is because they always relate to the coming Sunday’s lectionary. They are to prepare you for Sunday, rather than be looking back. If we waited to start until next Monday, we would lose Week 1 of Advent. — Goshen College devotions editor Jodi Beyeler

      Jodi Beyeler November 27, 2012 |
  7. Bob, you have done such a great job of kick starting this Advent season. I have been helping to plan our worship services at church and I have been struggling with the theme; “Flood Of Mercy.” But you have given me food for thought and a challenge as well. I am looking forward to all the Advent devotionals that are forthcoming.

    Amy Murray November 26, 2012 |
  8. This is very well presented. I plan to share it with my Chancel Choir and Hand Bell Choir at St. John ‘s United Methodist Church in Sarasota, Florida, in a short devotional this week as we prepare Advent and Christmas Eve music. So, the bottom line is this: You have given me a “flood of thoughts” for the start of Advent. Thank you!

    Lorraine Murphy November 26, 2012 |
  9. This theme is exciting for me as my verse for the year has been Ezekial 47:9. “Wherever the river goes,…it will become fresh; and everything will live where the river goes.” I am looking forward to this year’s Advent devotionals.

    Irma Mahone November 26, 2012 |
  10. The image of wading in God,s faithfulness is helpful to think about. Thanks, Bob. Looking forward to these devotionals.

    Mary Jo Short November 27, 2012 |
  11. Dear Pastor Bob, Thank you so much for not leaving me out and for keeping me on your contact list. Your reflections and those of Goshen College are very enlightening and encouraging. I always look forward to them during the seasons of Advent and Lent. United in awaiting the Lord,
    Mervyn Carapiet

    Mervyn Carapiet November 27, 2012 |
  12. Thanks, Bob Yoder, for the thoughtful introduction to the theme and sub-theme for this year’s reflections.
    And thank you, Jodi Beyeler, for explaining why you began our Advent devotions this week rather than next. I am looking forward to what your team has for us this 2012 Advent season.

    Barbara Clark November 29, 2012 |