When All Creation Repents

yellowflowerfromthedust2528dt20875082529(Advent 3A) The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus 2it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God. 3Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. 4Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you.” 5Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; 6then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; 7the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes. 8A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God’s people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray. 9No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there.10And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.   (Isaiah 35: 1-10)

So, this is probably the Scripture that conjures up that somewhat unreachable and perhaps inaccessible utopian paradise.  But it’s not inaccessible.  The whole idea is that it WILL come to be.  And Advent reminds us to look for that day, to imagine it into being.  It is a tension in which we live every day of our lives.  We want it, we imagine it, and, on a good day, we believe it will happen.  And then we turn on the TV.  But it is a holy tension, a liminality, if you will, betwixt and between the turmoil and grit of our lives and the promise that we believe.

This is Creation’s repentance.  It is Creation turning around and going a different direction.  We’re familiar with that.  When we talk of our own, it is uncomfortable to launch off into another direction, to begin to travel where GPS is not available and to a place with a story that we are writing as we go.  But here we are told that the desert will bloom.  The desert—that mass of dry sand that blows in our eyes and clouds our views, the place where we cannot map where we go, the land where water is scarce and sustenance is hard to find—will bloom!  The desert will turn and become something new.  Blindness will become sight; deafness will become music; the lame will leap and the mute will sing.  The waters will flow with thirst-quenching sound and the lost way will become a clear path.  Creation will become something new.

So, if Creation can do that, why can’t we?  Why can’t we let go of our fears and our preconceptions?  Why can’t we become something new?  Why can’t we rejoice and bloom?  No more excuses.  No more delay.  This is not some far-removed vision of a pile of sand with a flower.  This is what we have been given. And Advent calls us to begin to see its potential.  Advent calls us to begin to see our own potential. Have you ever thought that perhaps our faith journey is not about finding God at all but rather finding ourselves?  God is here.  Whether we feel God or not, God is here.  But us?  How much faith do you have in yourself?  God has faith in you.  God created you to do this, to turn, to change, to repent, to bloom.  So for what are you waiting?  After all, the desert is beginning to bloom.

Here is the God I want to believe in: a Father who, from the beginning of Creation, has stretched out his arms in merciful blessing, never forcing himself on anyone, but always waiting; never letting his arms drop down in despair, but always hoping that his children will return so that he can speak words of love to them and let his tired arms rest on their shoulders. His only desire is to bless. (Henri J.M. Nouwen)

FOR TODAY:  How are you being called to bloom?


Grace and Peace,



Between Night and Day

2016-11-30-between-night-and-day(Advent 2A) A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. 2The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. 3His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; 4but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. 5Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins. 6The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. 7The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. 9They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. 10On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious. (Isaiah 11: 1-10)

Yes, another reading about that future vision that God holds for us.  Advent is harder than we thought it was.  After all, we assumed that we just had these four weeks to prepare for Christmas (challenging enough by itself!) and we keep getting hit with the prospect of preparing for what is essentially the “Great Unknown”.  I mean, God gives us this vision pretty plainly but wolves cavorting with lambs and calves and lions sharing an abode and all of this being led by a child may be just too much to fathom.  In the words of Mary at that fateful encounter with the angel, “How can this be?”

Maybe that’s our whole problem.  Maybe we have not allowed ourselves or risked ourselves or trained ourselves to imagine something other than what we know.  We are pretty locked in.  Most of us have planned our tomorrows and possibly even the day-afters and we get really irritated when someone has a different idea.  In other words, those pesky new shoots that keep getting in the way of our perfectly trimmed hedge around our lives are sometimes just downright irritating.

So this season of Advent comes along as the great reminder that life does not and cannot go as planned.  Thanks be to God for that!  As we walk this season of remembering that coming of God into the world 2,000 years ago as Jesus Christ and at the same time looking toward the coming of God’s Reign in its fullness into the world that we now know, we are acutely aware that we live between two ways of being.  With our feet planted in this earth that still bears the marks of poverty and homelessness, of terrorism and war, of disunity and disregard of the rights and lives of others even at our own back door, we are called to imagine something different, something more, something beyond what we have.

We are the ones that live between night and day.  The night is reaching toward us, calling us, desperately needing our voices and our hearts to bring it into the light.  And up ahead in the faint distance is the Light that we ourselves crave so badly.  It would be so easy to just go and leave all this mess behind.  But that is not the plan.  Between night and day is where we are called to be.  That is the lesson of Advent.  And here, here is where we are called to imagine God’s vision into being.  We are not called to passively wait for the coming of God but rather to actively imagine this world the way God does and do our part to make it happen.  So, dare to imagine what God does.

If I cannot find the face of Jesus in the face of those who are my enemies, if I cannot find him in the unbeautiful, if I cannot find him in those who have the “wrong ideas,” if I cannot find him in the poor and the defeated, how will I find him in the bread and wine, or in the life after death? If I do not reach out in this world to those with whom he has identified himself, why do I imagine that I will want to be with him, and them, in heaven? Why would I want to be for all eternity in the company of those I avoided every day of my life? (Jim Forest)


FOR TODAY:  What do you dare to imagine of God’s vision?


Advent Peace,