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ADVENT: DAY 16

Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church - Outreach - Blogs - TEEZing Out The Roots

A shoot shall come out from the stump 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 LORD. His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. 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 LORD as the waters cover the sea.”—11:1-9

I strongly believe that this is one of those passages that should not be demystified. We should not read it as symbolic. We should not read it as allegorical. We should not get caught up in trying to decode the timing of it according to linear chronology. We should not scientifically analyze the possibilities of the ecosystems presented. We should not try to overlay the story of our Messiah on top of it and force the landscapes therein to perfectly match each other.

Instead, we should accept it as a piece of beautiful truth. We should accept it as possibility. We should accept it as that which was at the beginning, that which we can have now, and that which is to come—cyclical time and cyclical truth. We should accept that there are multiple meanings within this truth and multiple manifestations of its power. We should accept that our minds cannot fully comprehend the realities that exist within God’s vision.

We must decide what we believe about who is represented and the characteristics which define that entity. We must realize that those characteristics should be what we strive for in our own existence. We must seek the spirit of the LORD, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and fear of the LORD. We must not judge by what we see or decide by what we hear. We must favor the poor with righteousness and choose equity for the meek. We must use the strength of our words to speak truth to power. We must seek to destroy evil. We must wear righteousness and faithfulness as belts that hold the rest of us together. We must seek to create a global ecosystem of just peace.

Many of us who are Christians see the coming of Jesus as the fulfillment of this prophetic image. If you are such a person, please take the time to reflect upon what this implies about Jesus and his mission. Reflect upon whether or not all has been fulfilled. If you decide all has not, then reflect upon how Jesus’ mission continues with a trajectory towards fulfillment. Reflect upon how we may be part of that trajectory. If are not such a person, please take the time to reflect upon the hope which this passage exudes. Reflect upon how you can be an agent for making that hope manifest. 

Posted December 14, 2015

 

in Advent

ADVENT: DAY 10

Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church - Outreach - Blogs - TEEZing Out The Roots

On that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian will come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians.  On that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the LORD of hosts has blessed, saying, ‘Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my heritage.’”—Isaiah 19:23-24

 

There is not much I can add to this, friends.  Isaiah prophesies that the lands now containing Egypt and other parts of North Africa, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Israel, and other parts of the Middle East, will all be blessed by God.  The peoples therein will freely move about in each other’s lands, and they will be a blessing in the midst of the earth.

 

Today we see genocide, colonialism, State violence, despotism, terror, and religious fundamentalism on the part of leaders in these places.  Some of the worst atrocities in human history are being committed by the Israeli government, the Syrian government, and the Islamic State.  Western governments add their own arsenals to the mix, murdering thousands under the guise of protection and aid.  These modern nation states seem to be at war with each other perpetually.  The consequence of all of this is massive loss of human life, culture, and hope.

 

And yet, Isaiah prophesies.  I see hope in this prophecy because I see hope in the people who stood up and said, wrote, painted, and sang, “Ash-shab yurid isqat an-niazam—The people want the fall of the regime!”  I see hope in this prophecy because I see hope in Israeli and Palestinian citizens who challenge their governments and choose seek peace with each other no matter what.  I see hope in this prophecy because I see hope in the resilience of communities that have been under constant warfare for decades.  I see hope in this prophecy because I see hope in the people of these lands, who survive and thrive in spite of the horrors inflicted by the powers that be.  I see hope in this prophecy because I see hope in a God who would become incarnate as the Prince of Peace.  

 

It would be hard for anyone to say that this prophecy has come to pass.   The power of the people will prevail, though.  Let us pray AND act for the fulfillment of this prophecy with every resource and creative idea that we have.  Let us challenge the complicity of our own contexts so that the way may be made clear for the people whose power must prevail!  

Posted December 8, 2015

 

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Being planted in the rich soils of Zambia to inspire regrowth at home. “Other seed fell on good soil and bore fruit” -Matthew 13:8