* 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: 9 December
Read: Isaiah 25
(Light two candles)
“There are two things that are certain in life: death and taxes.” This centuries-old adage surfaces each spring as the deadline for filing tax returns approaches. As much as we would like to avoid and resist both of them, both death and taxes are part of the fabric of our world. Yet, it is not taxes so much that we afraid of. No, our impending death is what lurks in the shadows of our thoughts. We would like to tell ourselves, “We’re going to die, so relax. Don’t get stressed. Enjoy life.” And for most of our days that is how we live.
Yet, there can also be a certain hopelessness and helplessness that settle in as we recognize our limitations. Death is beyond our control; we might find ways to delay it, but we remain aware that eventually we will die. And the unknown that follows the certainty of death unnerves us. We have a sense that we need to make peace with God and with others before we die or that somehow our broken relationships and sinful behaviors will come back to haunt us. Death carries a permanency that threatens the possibility of our peace – even eternal peace.
But what if death is not so certain, not so permanent? What if there is more to our story than being born with the expectation that we will die? In today’s reading, Isaiah records one of God’s great promises: God will destroy “the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever” Death will die! Read those sentences again. The great story of Advent is that in Jesus Christ, the Creator of life entered our suffering as one of us, living life under the shadow of certain death as all humans do, and submitted himself to our death in order that we might live at peace with God and with others. Jesus’ birth is God’s assurance that we need not fear death because God is with us.
Peace in this life is possible not because death is inevitable or because we can somehow make our peace with God and those around us. No, peace is possible here and now because God is with us and is already at work removing death from us. And we have God’s word, quite literally the God’s Word-become-flesh that this deathless reality will one day be ours. Be at peace. For in Jesus Christ the day is coming when “there will be no more death, or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of things has passed away.”
Come quickly, Lord Jesus, that the light of your life may bring the unshakeable peace that causes all of creation to flourish! Amen.