Monday, November 30, 2015

Advent Day 2, 2015 - A little child shall lead them...

A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse,
   and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the
Lord shall rest on him,
   the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
   the spirit of counsel and might,
   the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the
His delight shall be in the fear of the

He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
   or decide by what his ears hear;
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
   and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
   and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
   and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

The wolf shall live with the lamb,
   the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
   and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
   their young shall lie down together;
   and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
   and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy
   on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the
   as the waters cover the sea.

 On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.  - Isaiah 2:1-10

The daily news seems to keep getting worse and worse. Children shot in crossfires, people with a so-called "cause" use explosives and high-powered firearms to mow down as  many people as possible, our would-be politicians regale us with claims that refugees (and/or gay marriage) will destroy this nation -- it goes from one thing to another and then back again. Things are in a mess, and in the midst of it we are supposed to find peace, good will, and joy in the approaching nativity of Our Lord.

Reading Isaiah, it feels like he is describing an idyllic place where harmony reigns and danger does not exist. It's a metaphoric paradise where enemies are comfortable together, and poisonous reptiles offer no challenge. I wonder -- what would living in a world like that would be like?  It really sounds almost too good to be true.

Young children are innocents who accept the world as good. Often they learn it is otherwise, but we hope that doesn't happen too soon. Many young people offer us words of wisdom that seem to come from a elder sage. Take, for example, Malala Yousafzai, a Nobel Laureate at the age of 16 and a champion for education for girls. I read something she said the other day and it made such sense: "With guns you can kill terrorists. With education you can kill terrorism."  These are words of a young woman wise beyond her years.

"A little child shall lead them..."  It doesn't take someone with a PhD or multiple graduate degrees in esoteric subjects to state something so clearly and so truthfully that it brings a listener up short.

Advent is about preparing for the birth of the little child who grew up to be a teacher, preacher, healer, and messiah. At the age of 12, he spent several days debating and discussing theology with wise men at the Temple in Jerusalem. They were amazed, just as we are when we read of children doing great things or even small things that start something that benefits many. 

Perhaps Isaiah's vision of a little child leading a world where lions and lambs lie down together isn't so far fetched. Maybe if we just look around, we'll see glimpses of it.

Originally published at Speaking to the Soul on Episcopal Café Saturday, November 28, 2015.

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