Sunday, December 04, 2011

Advent week two

Today is the second Sunday in Advent.  Advent is my favorite season in the liturgical year.  It is a time of joyous anticipation and the time in which the liturgical year starts anew.

During the four weeks of advent we wait for the appearance of the coming Christ.  A portion of today's lectionary reading comes from the book of Isaiah.  I spent a fair bit of time with Isaiah last quarter and have really grown to appreciate what this book has to offer.  The book of Isaiah is a redacted (i.e.:assembled by editors) collection of three separate writings.  First Isaiah (Ch 1-39) refers to the story of the prophet Isaiah of Jerusalem.  Second Isaiah (Ch 40-55) is written during the Babylonian exile and Third Isaiah (Ch 56-66) is written much later, after the exiles have returned to Jerusalem and the temple has been rebuilt.

Today's lectionary reading of Isaiah comes from the Second portion of the book, Chapter 40:1-8.  This book was written to comfort the Israelites who had been exiled to Babylon when the city of Jerusalem was destroyed.

What strikes me the most is verses 3-5: "A voice cries out: 'In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.  Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.  Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all the people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.'"

Advent is a time of preparation and waiting for a time when all things will be made new.  While the Isaiah text is directed to a specific people at a specific time, and it is imprudent to read too much Christology into the text (which does not allow the Hebrew Bible to stand on its own), the message is still relevant today.

The Lectionary reading from Mark 1:1-8 goes on to share the "good news of Jesus Christ" and quote the Isaiah text.  I think more than ever we need some good news.  I watched news reports last week during Black Friday in which a woman pepper sprayed shoppers in Walmart to get to an Xbox, an elderly man died in Target and was stepped over by eager shoppers and people would rather spend three days camped outside Best Buy for $200 HDTVs than spend Thanksgiving with their families.  I have closely been following the Occupy Wall Street protests with dismay.  The current political vitriol has reached epic proportions.  Unemployment numbers are down, but only because people have stopped looking for work.  All I have to say is that we need to be renewed in Christ.  Because I think our world is going to shit.

We wait for the coming light to bring hope into the darkness.

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