by The Reverend Doug Mork
Cross of Glory Lutheran Church
There are so many contrasts in this Advent 2016. My northern landscape, dark fields marked by the first dusting of winter snow. Deep sadness and uncertainly by many over what this election may bring while every radio station and mall blare a constant barrage of Christmas carols. A call in our Christian liturgy for a time of watchful, thoughtful preparation while the culture says do more, buy more, everything has to be perfect! While peace may be one of the traditional Advent themes, it’s certainly not easy to find this year!
In chapter 11 of Isaiah the prophet casts a vision sometimes called “the peaceable kingdom”. In the midst of all that’s going on in his world, poverty and injustice, internal strife and external threats, false prophets bearing only good news for the king while he calls for repentance, Isaiah is able to imagine something more. While his people’s circumstances are dire, he’s able to see beyond the coming doom and catch a glimpse of what God is doing. Even when his faithless and foolish, he’s able to trust in the character of God, the faithfulness of God. How else could he possibly deliver his prophetic call to return to the way of justice chapter after chapter?
For Isaiah, peace is not just a state of the world free from injustice and war. He longs for that world, he knows it’s God’s intent for the creation. But in the meantime, in the real world he inhabits day to day, doing the work God has given him to do, his peace grows from his trust in God.
For me as for many of you, this Advent doesn’t feel very peaceful. Thinking of Isaiah’s time for a moment, it feels more like exile. Political and community landscapes are no longer familiar, freedom to live out critical values feels at risk, loved ones are at risk. It’s not easy to imagine what exile must have been like, but unfortunately it’s easier today than it used to be.
In this Advent 2016, we need Isaiah’s courage to speak a prophetic word, to call our communities and country to paths of justice. But it also takes great courage to look beyond the deep brokenness of the moment and see something more, to speak of a “peaceable kingdom”. This is a vision rooted in faith, in things beyond what our eyes can see. We are called not just to work for the justice that makes peace possible but to be visionaries, to help our people see a future of hope and promise. We have to open our eyes wide to all the goodness that is in people and remember the incredible struggles that have brought us here.
God of peace, grant us new vision. Nurture the hope that is in us that it may grow and bear much fruit. Help us see the goodness in your people and world as clearly as we see the brokenness. Bless us with your peace even as we work for a more peaceful world. AMEN