10Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, 11Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. 12But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test. 13Then Isaiah said: “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? 14Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. 15He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted. (Isaiah 7: 10-16)
As we near the end of Advent and the promised coming of God, the prophetic voices seem to get louder and louder. The picture of the promise has begun to take shape, moving from a far-off clouded beginning to verses that are more specific of what is about to happen. We don’t know if Ahaz’ refusal to ask for a sign is because it had begun to be clear or if it was his way of showing his faith. Either way, he didn’t feel the need to ask for proof of God’s existence or what God was about to do. But we really don’t know who the child is. Some think that this might have been referring to Ahaz’s wife, which means the child may have been the future king Hezekiah. Centuries later when the Christian lens was added, another interpretation of the passage was taken as referring to the coming of Christ, Emmanuel, “God with us”.
There is ambiguity to the story. Oh, who are we kidding? There is ambiguity to the whole faith story. Maybe that’s the point. If the story were clear and definitive, why would we need faith? If we knew exactly where we were going, why would we need to walk this road? Faith is not knowing what the promise is; faith is not being sure of where we are going; faith is journeying toward a promise that is sometimes clear and sometimes cloudy, but always there.
Yesterday, every window in the house in which I live was replaced. The old windows were dirty and worn. They had been clouded over with years and years of dirt and grime, years of weather and winds, years of pounding rains. (And they were so thin and brittle, that Maynard, the black lab had hit one and broken it going after a person or a cat or perhaps a unicorn, but that’s another story!) But when I look through the new windows, the colors are more pronounced and I can see more of what is outside. The light streams in, unfiltered by dust and grime. That is sort of what Advent does for us. This season is a clearing season, clearing away the cobwebs and the dirt and grime, making the colors of our faith more pronounced so that the promise begins to come into focus, if only a little bit. It is still filled with ambiguity and the unknown. After all, we’re not meant to ever have ALL the answers. We’re meant to walk in faith. But the signs are there. Unfiltered, this season prepares us to open our eyes to the light as it begins to stream in. And when the light is that bright, it walks us through the ambiguity that it illumines.
Spirituality is the ability to live with ambiguity. (Ray Anderson)
FOR TODAY: What signs do you see when you stop and look?
Grace and Peace,