Saturday, December 6, 2014

Advent Day 7

Truly, O people in Zion, inhabitants of Jerusalem, you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when he hears it, he will answer you. Though the Lord may give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself any more, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’

He will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and grain, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous. On that day your cattle will graze in broad pastures; and the oxen and donkeys that till the ground will eat silage, which has been winnowed with shovel and fork. On every lofty mountain and every high hill there will be brooks running with water—on a day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. Moreover, the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, like the light of seven days, on the day when the Lord binds up the injuries of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow. - Isaiah 30:19-21,23-26

The season of Advent often brings the image of a journey or a path to be followed as it wends its way to Christmas. Advent is a mini-mirror for the journeys we all experience through life, the rough places and the smooth ones, the hills and mountains as well as the valleys and chasms. At the end, though, all will be well -- we hope.

In his words to the Babylonian exiles, Isaiah gave words of hope mixed with a reminder as to why they were there in the first place. They had set God aside in favor of idols and unrighteous living. For that, they had to eat the bread of adversity and drink the water of affliction. But, Isaiah reminds them, it would not be forever and that God will still be with them. God had punished them for their unfaithfulness, but the time would come when the wounds would be bound and healed, all because God was always faithful, even if the people weren't.

Most of us have what could be a little bit of God in us in the form of our consciences, telling us whether we should go left or right, do or not do something, say or not say something. Conscience should be informed by a direct connection with God, Yet all too often, we sweep conscience aside unless it agrees with what we ourselves want to do and not necessarily what is good or right. We listen to the world far more than we listen to God, but then it seems God speaks in so many different ways to different people. Who do we listen to? What one group deems imperative, another labels the same thing blasphemous or heretical. What some insist the Bible says about this topic or that one, others see it exactly the opposite. Who is right?

During Advent it might be a good time to stop and listen for God to tell us which way to go -- right or left, toward this need or away from that desire, to gather in or to give away. It could be part of our Advent journey that will be with us long after Christmas has passed.

Originally published at Speaking to the Soul on Episcopal Café Saturday, December 6, under the title "Mirrors."

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