Zechariah promises a humble king to come, making his entrance on the back of a the colt of a donkey. This is an unlikely king who comes to rule with the full strength of God’s peace. Make no doubt, it’s overpowering, but in God’s way, not the way of human empires.
Jesus uses the Hebrew Scriptures to point to himself as the Messiah. Looking at 2 Samuel 7, it seems that not only does Jesus hail from the line of David, not only is Jesus the one who is called the Son of God, not only is Jesus the one who calls God “Abba,” “Father,” but it is Jesus that proclaims the divine “but,” which refuses to give sin and death the final say.
In his use of the Hebrew Scriptures to point to his role as God’s Messiah, Jesus probably would have used Micah’s prophecy. Micah, like the other prophets, promises one who is to come who will not rule through militaristic adventures and war mongering. He promises one to come who will be Savior, who will reign with peace and offer a new way to salvation.
What did Christ say to the disciples while walking the Emmaus Road? I wonder if the disciples walking down the path were bemoaning Christ’s absence and failure to fulfill their hoped-for vision of a Messiah, much like many of us as the faithful do today, lamenting that God hasn’t granted us what we expected or wanted in the Messiah. And yet, this is God-in-flesh.
The birth of Christ is disruptive to the devastating pain of human frailty. The gift of God in Christ flips all of the societal expectations upside down, and whether shepherds who come in lowliness, or Magi who come bringing valuable gifts, the incarnation invites us as one humanity to join in the noise making. For in Christ, God has won out. The promise of new life is declared, not just possible, but a realized truth.
Pastor Kathy Escobar says that when hope is running low, sometimes the best thing we can do is borrow hope from one another. In the Magnificat, Mary provides more than enough hope for us all to borrow, offered in the assured promise of who Christ is and will be.
The paradox of Advent is that even in the darkness, there is a light. Even in our brokenness, there is healing. Even in our weariness, there is rest. The Advent promise is that the gift of God comes to offer light in the midst of our weary world.
There’s power in memory. Mark uses the power of memory in the opening of his Gospel to frame the coming of Christ through the remembrance of God’s saving acts in the history of Israel. Though not all memories are uplifting, the beauty of Advent is the promise that God sends Christ to offer healing and peace into the brokenness and strife.
After a year that presented a plethora of challenges, it may be our desire to skip Advent and dive straight into Christmas. But not so fast! The good news of Emmanuel, God with us, is that we don’t have to skip the weariness and brokenness, or act as if everything is ok. The good news is that God meets us in the darkness. This is Advent.
In the parable of the bridesmaids, we always want to identify with the bridesmaids who made it in to the wedding banquet. But is that really the best option? Was that group really the best witness of faithfulness? It’s time we rethink this parable, and admit, that while we may identify with the prudent bridesmaids, having sufficient oil for ourselves, in reality, we’re just as foolish as the morons who forgot their oil.