for people trample on me....
O Most High, when I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
(excerpt from Psalm 56:1-3)
Isaiah was speaking to people who were aware of the devastation that the powerful Assyria had deployed, taking advantage of the poor, plundering the weak. Israel had been overtaken. Judah was under threat. Yet, the prophet speaks a message of hope.
Isaiah promised them a new king. This king would be supported by the Lord:
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,The promised king would be an ideal king. A king who would be what kings should be. With his wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, and fear of the Lord, this king would be a good judge. He would be fair to the poor and the meek. He would overcome the wicked.
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
Christians have long appropriated this vision of the ideal king to the messiah, Christ.
Questions to ask as we anticipate the coming of Christ: Do we need a powerful monarch to enforce peace? In what ways does this passage describe the church (after all, we think of the church as the body of Christ)?
Isaiah described the ideal king as caring for the poor and vulnerable. Do we see this as a necessary role for a ruler? for Christ? for the church?
Isaiah describes what the kingdom ruled by this new king will be like. Peace among natural enemies. More than peace, harmony.
In an article, "Preaching the Advent Texts: Hope, Peace, Courage," in the Journal for Preachers, Advent 2010, John Buchanan writes:
Americans read the morning paper and hope that there hasn't been another suicide bomber, that a Palestinian rocket hasn't precipitated a deadly Israeli retaliation, that more beautiful young Americans have not died in Afghanistan. We live between yearning for peace and the reality of the world in the year of our Lord 2010. And the preacher's responsibility is to help the congregation remember the promise of Isaiah's vision and to point to signs, tiny green shoots sprouting in unlikely places--shoots of Jesse.What gifts do we bring as peacemakers--in our world, our cities, our neighborhoods?
In what ways do you see God acting to make all things new?
2 Corinthians 12:11-21
Paul lists what he is afraid he will find when he visits the congregation in Corinth: quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. What do visitors find when they visit a congregation today? Christians, we can do better, and we must.
Another lament, another reminder to trust God.
Do not eat the bread of the stingy;
do not desire their delicacies;
for like a hair in the throat, so are they.
"Eat and drink!" they say to you.
Prayer for Today: O Lord, we seek your presence. O Lord, cure us from our habits of many congregations, like quarreling, jealousy, anger. Direct us toward being peacemakers in our communities and within the larger community. Amen.