December 4, 2022
SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT
An Impossible Vision?
Today’s image from the Old Testament reading of a world at peace—a peace so full and universal that it extends to every living creature—may feel as comforting as it does unbelievable, at least by our logic (Isaiah 11:1-10). Wolves and lambs aren’t friends. Lions don’t eat straw. Children should not play with snakes. In the animal kingdom—and we are animals—there are predators and prey. Whether we take it literally or metaphorically, “Eat or be eaten” is how we’ve been taught to survive in the wilderness.
And yet here, on this wilderness morning, we hear the prophet telling us that it does not have to be this way—indeed, that it will not be this way forever. In the new world God is coming to bring, we won’t need to tear each other apart just to survive. Somehow we will be able to live together in peace.
No wonder that of all the ways God could have revealed the depths of holy love and brought reconciliation to the world, God chose to come as a little child, a child no one thought possible, a branch from a tree that was seemingly long dead.
Beholding this child moves us to repentance, turning us from all the ways we demonize and hurt each other, and calling us instead to offer peace. Rather than taking the bait set to keep us fighting, we come together to eat the bread and drink from the cup set at the Lord’s table.
In the new creation, our identity is no longer defined by our lineage or status, as those who came to be baptized by John imagined, or by being enemies, prey, or predator. Instead, in Christ’s baptismal waters we are given a new life as beloved kin. With God all things are possible!
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The Readings in the Bible
The gospel of Matthew, following on the model of Mark, prefaces the narratives of the ministry of Jesus by introducing John the Baptist, whom Matthew sees as embodying the one that Isaiah had described centuries before. The prophet John is preparing the way for the Messiah by preaching repentance and baptizing in the Jordan.
In a poem beautifully describing a future cosmic paradise, the eighth-century seer looks forward to a coming king, a descendent of King David, who will embody the spirit of God and bring justice to all.
Towards the conclusion of his letter to the Roman Christians, Paul explains that Jesus Christ came to serve the Jews, as God had promised, also to save the Gentiles. Paul invokes the Trinity, the merciful God who in Christ will give to believers the power of the Holy Spirit.