* This post is part of an Advent devotional, being posted daily during Advent 2014. For an intro to this series of posts, please read the initial post here.
Tuesday: 2 December
Read: Isaiah 2:1-5
(Light a candle)
How odd this message must have sounded to those who heard it first. Instead of the typical religious mantra of “Save us from those who are not like us” this passage describes a coming kingdom in which all the nations will come to the mountain of the Lord. There, the Lord will teach the nations and judge between them, leading to a new and almost unthinkable reality: the nations of the world will turn their instruments of violence into tools that cause the earth itself to flourish.
Even as we confess our own sins this Advent season, we intercede for the world around us. The repercussions of sin are not merely matters of personal morality. No, sin is far more entangled within the fabric of our world than what our contemporary privatization of faith can handle.
Ferguson. Gaza. North Korea. Ukraine. ISIL. Joseph Kony. Boko Haram. Reservations and residential schools. Washington Redskins. Jim Crow. Apartheid. More African-American men in prison within the U.S. than were enslaved before the Civil War. 27+ million people in slavery today. Sex tourism and trafficking. Millennia of attempts to secure tribal and national peace through war. Political and religious homogeneity pursued through executions, acts of terrorism, and outright genocides.
The repercussions of our sin are pervasively systemic. In our systems and structures, we exponentially multiple our sins by promulgating unexamined privileges and internalized oppressions for the perceived benefit of a few and at compounding costs to the many.
And so, in Advent we cry out, interceding because the world has fallen so far short of what God intended it to be. We cry out, interceding because the world is not yet what God has promised it will be. We cry out, interceding because we recognize that God is the only one who can transform our systems and structures as well as our hearts.
As we give voice to the great laments of our age and spend ourselves on behalf of our brothers and sisters who are poor, marginalized, and oppressed, we take hope. For in the Advent season, we remember and believe that in Jesus Christ God has heard our cries. Even here, even now – though it might not trend on Twitter or show up on the evening news – we are reminded by Isaiah’s vision and Jesus’ birth that God is already at work untangling us and the whole world from our sin and all of its seemingly intractable allies. And we look ahead, anticipating that day when Jesus Christ will return and fulfill his work of making all things new. “Come, people of God, let us walk in the light of the Lord.”
Come quickly, Lord Jesus, that the light of your life may fill us with the living hope that our sins will be no more. Amen.