* 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.
Friday: 5 December
Read: Isaiah 9:2-7
(Light a candle)
A whole new reality suddenly bursts into being within this passage. Darkness is cast off. Oppressive yokes and chains are broken. The battle garments – stained as they are with the mingled blood of victims and perpetrators – are burned. This new reality is announced in harvest-style celebrations. Do you hear the relief in the soldiers’ voices? They are celebrating because war is over. There are no more battles to be fought, no more fear of impending threat or sudden attack. And Isaiah’s audacious assertion is that this peaceable kingdom will arrive with the birth of a child.
How different that vision is from our reality. We live in a world of stockpiled weapons, convinced that our peace is made secure through our capacity to destroy others. Deterrence we call it. Nuclear weapons and drones, death penalties and police force, Yet such a posture maintains peace through a constant suspicion of others. Those who are different than us, whether in language or skin color, diet or clothing, worship styles or religious expressions, national citizenship or political party, wealth or poverty, age or gender become our enemies because the mere existence of their difference is viewed as a potential threat to our way of life. Our vision of peace comes by oppressing others, even to the point of death.
Yet, Isaiah’s proclamation and our memory of this Advent season converge to form within us the hope that a different peace is possible. In remembering Jesus’ birth, we recall how God displayed royalty through vulnerability. We hear how God announced good news through an old barren couple (Zechariah & Elizabeth), a barely married teenage girl and her woodworking husband, distrusted shepherds, and a caravan of foreign astrologers. No power and dominance. No oppression. No making enemies out of outcasts and strangers. No suspicion of those who are different.
In this season, hope emerges that a day will come when the garments and instruments of war will no longer be deployed to protect the peace of a few through the oppression of others. In Jesus Christ a day is coming when there will be no more enemies. The light of God’s child brings us hope – confident hope that the darkness that has blinded us into making peace by making enemies will be no more. Take hope; the Prince of Peace is coming.
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.