Here we are entering another Advent, the annual observation of a four-week period leading into Christmas. Without a biblical reference to the actual date of Jesus’ birth, the ancient church chose this time of year to observe Advent and Christmas because it was the darkest time of the year, with reduced hours of light in the shortening days. What better time for the church to turn away from darkness and remind people that God’s light still illumines our way.
I love the prophecies that we remember during Advent. They are so hopeful to us at a time when darkness takes over the skies. They are also reminders that anxieties about world events are nothing new to God’s people. The prophet Isaiah lived during a time when the people were disillusioned and discouraged by the loss of their homeland. Their leaders had turned away from God, formed unholy alliances giving them the illusion of protection. Under siege from the Assyrians, and later under rule of the Babylonians, Isaiah had a vision of the Word of God, a vision of a new future where the light of God would shine through cracks in the darkness and draw all to God’s ways.
Isaiah calls the people to come and walk in the light of the Lord. That command comes with a promise, a promise that one day, when all have turned toward this light, and seen God’s Word, God alone will be the righteous and merciful judge who brings peace to the world. God’s Word has the power to turn our weapons of destruction and death into tools of cultivation, community and nourishment. God will show us, through the light in the cracks, that what unites us as God’s children is much stronger that what divides us. We see in God’s Word that love is stronger than hate, light is stronger than darkness, life is stronger than death.
It’s important that Isaiah claims to have SEEN God’s Word. In order for God’s Word to be seen, it must then be visible – and visible even though the darkness of these current days. During Advent we look for the light shining through the cracks, knowing that we wait and we watch – for God’s Word is about to become visible, revealed for all the world to see. We see God’s Word in the face of Jesus, and we can then see God’s Word in the face of all.
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Devotions for the Week of November 27, 2016
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Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church (GA) in New York City has been chosen as one of eight internship congregations to participate this year in a church-wide initiative designed to increase our understanding of Holy Scripture and most importantly, to cultivate our engagement with it. In partnership with The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, Vicar John Heidgerd will be working to develop innovative ways to deepen our faith formation and sense of discipleship for the sake of ourselves and our communities.