God faithfully and consistently desires that the chosen people join him in bringing peace and good government to the world. The whole of history seems to show God’s plan being frustrated, and any object lesson that Israel and Jerusalem might provide falls to the ground.
Among a sea of destruction and devastation Isaiah 2:1-5 offers a tiny alighting place. In Isaiah 1 “the faithful city has become a whore” (v. 21) and from 2:6 onward shock and doom increase. Thank God for the prophet’s vision of God’s gracious will and proclamation.
God’s plan involves Israel’s educating the nations of the world and drawing them close to God. God-in-the-Temple will “teach us his ways” and open divine paths to us. Instruction, which will include God’s wisdom as Israel knew it, and the “word of the Lord” will woo all nations to God. The people of the world will freely choose the options that make for peace. We hear the prophet wail words to this effect, “O Jacob, when will you come into your heritage?” It calls to our minds Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem.
As with Isaiah, some of us are called to speak truth to power and to break down strongholds of lies. Tyrannies based on lies crumble, as in East Germany and South Africa, and when they are gone people wonder where their power originated. Today in South Africa the Christian church speaks truth to white racism and to black racism. Based on the truth and faithfulness of God, a Tutu or Mandela and Christians in gang-ridden areas—and in your area—bring truth to bear and tear down strongholds.
Dear Lord, show me whom I should approach prophetically about wrongs, and give me the power through your Spirit to speak without fear or favor. Amen.
Advent is a new year, new time, new life: a genuine newness wrought by God in the world. As both the pro- phetic oracle and the psalm attest, Israel hopes for justice, peace, and well-being. The biblical community knows God’s intention for these matters and trusts God’s faithful promise. Thus Advent begins in a vision of a healed alternative for the world. The New Testament readings intensify the long-standing hopes and make the promises of God immediate prospects. The intensity and present tense of New Testament faith revolve around the presence of Jesus, whose very person initiates a new beginning in the world. The church at Advent watches in order to notice where God is bringing justice, peace, and well-being.
• Read Isaiah 2:1-5. What are your experiences of freedom and un-freedom? Consider how your demands for freedom in certain areas cause others to experience un-freedom.
• Read Psalm 122. When have you gathered for worship with a diverse community? What do you perceive as the bene ts of such a gathering?
• Read Romans 13:11-14. The writer suggests that we con- sider our salvation as a journey. Where are you along the way?
• Read Matthew 24:36-44. We are to KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON. How do you manifest your “readiness” for the coming of the kingdom?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.