Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, 11Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. 12But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test. 13Then Isaiah* said: ‘Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? 14Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman* is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.* - Isaiah 7:10-14
It's been a long day. I'm tired, and I still have a lot of things I need to get done, but the body is giving me a signal that it has had about enough for the day and it's just about time to go to bed. It's a pretty easily understood signal.
I asked a friend what the first thing was that came to her mind if I said the word "sign". Her response was "Give me a sign" or "Sign here." The same four letters form a single word but with multiple meanings, depending on the context. There are a number of other ways that the word can be used, but one that is important in this Advent season is the sign we are looking for and toward as the season draws closer to its glorious ending.
Prophets spoke of signs and wonders, something very familiar to those who know the gospel of John, but the interpretation of signs and the giving of signs was a prophetic job that needed to be done on a regular basis. They were somewhat like the little red light that comes on in your car when the oil pressure is not right or the gas cap is not tight. We look for signs to tell us what's going on, how to get where were going, or what someone is thinking or feeling.
Prayers ask for signs, like "Lord, give me a sign to let me know what I'm supposed to be doing." One thing we need to do is, if we do pray such a prayer, is to stop and listen for response. We may have to listen for quite a while, but that just tells us that maybe were too busy to have heard what was being said to us
The appearance of the Angel to Mary was a sign that something momentous was going to happen. The young woman in Isaiah's prophecy wasn't foretelling the birth of Jesus, but we've learned to look at it that way. Prophets looked at much closer events and were guided to speak of the immediate present and near future, not something centuries away. Still, the woman and child of whom Isaiah spoke were a sign of something, so the people needed to look for them and find out what was meant by the sign. Just because something was written a long time ago doesn't always mean that it isn't of value to us.
All during advent we been told to be awake, be alert, aware, listening,, and now watch for the sign. Sure, we can look for a sign, like a growing star in the sky, but the star that we see may not be sign we are supposed to see. So how do we know where to look for a sign? That's a difficult question; we need to keep our eyes open as well as our ears, our brains, and our hearts. We don't want to miss the sign, just like we don't want to miss a road sign pointing us in the direction of the destination we wish to reach.
The days of advent are growing fewer, a sign that Christmas is coming. We must look around to, see if there are other signs that we need to pay attention to. The Lord will give us a sign, but we do have to be aware and awake and alert to see that sign, to hear the sign, to recognize the sign.
"The Lord will give you a sign." We just have to look for it.