An Advent Journey: Reflections for Weary Travelers — Day Eighteen – Third Sunday of Advent


Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11, NRSV

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because theLord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of theLord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
They shall build up the ancient ruins,
they shall raise up the the former devastations;
   they shall repair the ruined cities,
 the devastations of many generations.

For I the Lord love justice,
    I hate robbery and wrongdoing;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
    and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their descendants shall be known among the nations,
    and their offspring among the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge
    that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
    my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
    he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
    and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
    to spring up before all the nations.

This is a spectacular picture of a world made right, isn’t it? And as hard as it is for me to believe in this reality at this juncture in our national and international history, I am hanging onto it with all my might.

We serve a God who loves justice — which means a God who wants us to be right with one another as well as with him. And we have a long way to go to get there, don’t we? But . . . if we, the church, can see ourselves as God dreams of us . . . as oaks of righteousness, planted in this world by the hand of God, then hope remains.

Can we let go of the prejudices, the misconceptions, the misinterpretations of both scripture and life that have plagued us so much in recent years? Can we look at Jesus, this one whose birth we celebrate at the end of the month, and see him for who he truly was? A humble, righteous man, THE Man, THE Human, who models for us what being an oak of righteousness looks like.

Read those stories he used as teaching devices. Observe what he did as he walked around that occupied land into which he was born. Notice whom he singles out for attention, where he uses his healing power. Jesus surprises, over and over again. Can we — the church, the bride of Christ — can we surprise people by our graciousness, our inclusion, our insistence upon justice for all, our ability to care for ‘the least of these?’ That is my prayer, now, during Advent, and as we continue to move through the year ahead. Will you join me?

Lord Jesus, we so often miss you, don’t we? We look at the rules and the rituals and the doctrines and the dogmas we’ve loaded on ourselves over the centuries . . . and we miss you. Give us eyes to see you, truly see YOU. And then empower us to live as you live, to care as you cared, to hope as you hoped. Thank you.

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  1. Such a beautiful prayer, Diana. Gladly joined in with you.

  2. “Surprising people by our graciousness…” Yes, Jesus, may I be good at surprises.