Sunday’s reading from Isaiah 11:1-10 is filled with wonderful imagery of a world made new, and in which there is no hurt or harm on God’s holy mountain. There is peace and harmony, and all are at home with the other.
We are living on God’s holy mountain in which we invoke the words of Isaiah:
a spirit of wisdom and insight,
a spirit of counsel and power,
a spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.
(The fear of the Lord is his breath.)
He does not judge by appearances,
he gives no verdict on hearsay,
but judges the wretched with integrity,
and with equity gives a verdict for the poor of the land.
His word is a rod that strikes the ruthless,
his sentences bring death to the wicked.
Integrity is the loincloth round his waist,
faithfulness the belt about his hips.
We are asked to be a signal for all peoples, as John the Baptist was, when he urged people to prepare for the coming of the kingdom by repenting of their sins.
During the week I have had the good pleasure of reading the Advent reflections, Advent the Good, from Common Grace (www.commongrace.org.au), which is a movement of people pursuing Jesus and justice. This year's series reflects on the hope and joy of the good breaking in with the birth of Christ.
I will share with you some of the words from Susy Lee (Common Grace Day 3) about Imagining Peace – raising a generation of good peacemakers:
This is non-trivial though. Peacemaking activist Shane Claiborne says: “Peacemaking doesn’t mean passivity. It is the act of interrupting injustice without mirroring injustice, the act of disarming evil without destroying the evildoer, the act of finding a third way that is neither fight nor flight but the careful, arduous pursuit of reconciliation and justice.” To raise a generation of children up to this task we’ll need lots of discipleship and the Holy Spirit.
And then on Day 4, Dr Miriam Pepper moved me with the words of her advent prayer reflecting on Isaiah 9:2-7 and Isaiah 2:1-5. A visual reflection of Dr Miriam Pepper's Advent prayer is in the link below.
God of new life,
In hope you are born amidst desperation
In every place and time.
We long for your shalom -
For mutuality and cooperation,
Creativity and regeneration,
The righting of wrongs,
For the flourishing of your good creation.
We pray for an ending of hostilities
In the warzones of your world.
We pray for release for all who are oppressed
By the stealers of lands and cultures over generations.
May those who have experienced trauma and violence
Have restitution and space to heal.
May those who have raised their weapons
Instead reach for the trowel and the easel.
We pray for freedom for your embattled earth -
An end to the senseless destruction of ecosystems,
For technologies that work with, and not against,
The diversity of life of which we are all a part.
Prepare our hearts for peace -
Draw our eyes to the good,
Even amidst devastation and despair.
Encourage us in the long work of justice -
Teach us your way of disarming love,
As we commit to walk your path.
In the name of the Christ-child,
Who comes as surely as the new day.
The link to this prayer is here
Mine is not the gift of such poetic expression, and I share these words with you as they reflect my thoughts and feelings.
In my many spaces over the past week, particularly in the Synod on Synodality conversations, people are longing for what is being expressed in Isaiah, in Matthew and now by these two women from Common Grace. Our souls are aching for peace, justice, joy, hope, patience, compassion, wisdom, insight and in one word Love. Our faith calls us to be a people who walk with others and creation, guided by the Holy Spirit. All must listen with an open heart and mind, using the gifts freely given to us. For many, there is a deep disappointment that this longing is not being fulfilled by being a member of our church. I can certainly feel the sadness and sense of despair when I listen to people who imagine and hope for the vision of the prophets and indeed of Jesus Christ.
And to finish this week’s message with the verse from this week’s Gospel Acclamation:
Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths:
all people shall see the salvation of God.
We are the humble ones who God has sent to prepare the way.