The Advent and Christmas Seasons are simply the best because the music is the best. The music is built upon a message of hope, promised in the gift of Christ. “Lo, How a Rose e’er Blooming” is a hymn that reminds us of that promise, as foretold by the prophet Isaiah.
Max (the dog) and Joseph have a similar reaction to the invitation to be involved, a strong and resounding “no.” But when Immanuel, God with us, invades the messiness of our lives, our response quickly becomes one of faithfulness, not fear.
The Grinch saw the Whos down in Who-Ville decorating, singing, and cooking, but thought their merriment was a sham. Perhaps we should question our own nonsensical over-indulgence in the season.
If we cannot identify ourselves as wilderness people, we will have a hard time understanding the context of Advent. The advent of Christ is to bring good news to the poor, release captives from slavery to sin and death. If we can’t claim our own wilderness, perhaps we should align ourselves with those in the wilderness.
At the call of the prophet in Isaiah 51, today we receive a State of the Church report, where we look back to see from where we have come, to look around and acknowledge where we are today, and to hear the vision of what God may have in store for us in the future.
The witness of God’s will in the life of Jesus Christ proves God’s love for all humanity, regardless the color of their skin, their perceived or expressed gender or sexual identity, their faith or lack thereof, their country of origin or their country of citizenship.
For the Biblical text to truly be helpful in our understanding of salvation and the saving work of God, it requires us to have an understanding of the text that goes deeper than what a simple surface level reading can provide. Isaiah 55 is a good example.
We sit in wonder of the same things as the people of Israel who were scattered in exile: for truly as a people – as a nation and as a community – we are broken and we are yearning for a new promise of hope.