Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Advent Day 3

Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!” See, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep. – Isaiah 40:9-11

In various times and places, mountain tops have been places to pass messages. Sometimes it was a signal fire, sometimes flags, patterns of flashing light, or even yodels, but each time there was a reason to send a message over distance and fairly quickly. The news was often reports of battle, invasion or sickness but there could be good news too. During Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee festivities, a string of 4000 signal fires were lit around Britain and the commonwealth in celebration of the event. Isaiah has given us a similar pattern, to shout the good news from the mountain tops.

During Advent we set up the signal fires, flags, mirrors, and yodels that will sound on Christmas Eve when we celebrate Christ’s birth. In the meantime we prepare. Like a mother gathering a layette for an impending birth, we set the stage for the great event while thoughtfully and prayerfully putting things in order.

The passage for today reminds us that God is a God of strength and power but also one of gentleness and mercy. We often picture Jesus as the gentle, merciful aspect of God that came to Earth to gather up the flock and lead them to lush green pastures or a safe, secure fold, but it’s not as easy to picture God as anything but a white-haired man in long white robes and a scowling face. Yet the two are one just as the one are two. Jesus could be strong and powerful but also God can be gentle and merciful. It’s all in the perception.

So as we wait for the coming of Jesus, we need to pause and consider what we are waiting for and why. The coming of God in the incarnation of Jesus is a coming that is both tender and powerful, all at the same time.
That is something to consider today as we journey through Advent. Get ready! Have the fires laid! Keep awake! Get ready to shout!

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