Saturday, December 15, 2012

The third Sunday in Advent--with sorrow

Isaiah sings with the coming of the Lord—“Let every valley be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; and let the rough ground become a plain, and the rugged terrain a broad valley; then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken”(40:4-5). This pulls in both the babe in the manger and the glorious second coming.

But why does it matter and who will care after yesterday, and the death of twenty children? How can our hearts even think of Christmas with all of its associations with children; their bright sparkling eyes reflecting Christmas lights? How can we endure to see presents, candy and sing Christmas hymns in the midst of such tragedy? Everything inside of us is crying out for an ending—the end of night and the beginning of eternal morning. And yet …

The hills and mountains come down to meet the valleys that have been lifted up. And all can see the glory of God. But he is not a wicked king who treads down the innocent, he picks up the children. The broken the hurting parents.  Isaiah weaves in and out of the human condition. “All flesh is as grass,” and yet there is good news because God’s word endures through it all. We must not fear; there is this news, the good news.

The Messiah, the everlasting Father, the arm of the Lord—comes with his might—“Like a shepherd he will tend his flock, in his arm he will gather the lambs and carry them in his bosom; he will gently lead the nursing ewes” (40:11). This mighty king, who comes to die, carries the little ones in his bosom. This one who “measures the waters in the hollow of his hand” stooped down to earth, took on flesh, became a child, and gently leads the nursing mother.

And yet, he warns the wicked, he will blow and they will wither. (40:24b) He knows, what we do not know, his “understanding is inscrutable.” He knows of yesterday and the wickedness that seemingly prevailed. He has carried it all on his shoulders, in his body, on the cross—there is an open place for the sinner and an arm for the child, the lamb, the little one.

Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord, and the justice due me escapes the notice of my God’? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable (40:27-28).”

No comments: