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,



ItFor I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight. (Isaiah 65: 17-18)

On the twelfth day of Advent, my true love gave to me…Ugh oh…it’s not Advent, the song is about Christmas. The two are so easily confused in our world. Advent is not Christmas. Christmas is about the manger and Mary and Joseph and the shepherds and the beginning of life again. Christmas is about God’s coming into our little world to shake things up and change us and everything around us. But Advent? Well, Advent is about looking toward the horizon, looking toward that time when, yet again, our little world will be shaken to its core and we and everything around us will be changed. Do you see it? There…there just over the horizon. The light is beginning to peak over the clouds and dawn is beginning to come.

So, Advent reminds us that what we see, what we know, what we have so carefully constructed in our life is not “It”. (Sorry, it’s not!) Advent reminds us that there is always, always a horizon. When Jesus came into this world, God incarnate, so long ago, as much as we Christians with all our pretty lights and our comforting Christmas carols try to make that “It”, I don’t think it is. The “it” that happened in that manger on that dark night in Bethlehem was not “It”. It was not really the things for which the world had waited. Rather, it was the beginning of it. It was the thing that pointed to “It”.

You see, if our celebrations stop at Christmas (or, for that matter, even START there), we have missed it all. If our celebrations stop in the manger, they are nothing more than an historic remembrance of a beautiful, incredible night when God peeked into the world. But if we begin to see the manger as the beginning, as the “it” that points to the “It”, as the beginning of what we will find just over the horizon, then the coming of God, Emmanuel, into our little world is everything that it was meant to be.

So, on this twelfth day of Advent, raise your heads beyond the gift-buying and the tree-decorating, and all that this season holds. And open your eyes and see just over the horizon. There “It” is…we can’t see it all yet, but “It” is coming to be. There…there just over the horizon. That is “It”.

The Advent mystery is the beginning of the end in all of us that is not yet Christ. (Thomas Merton)

Grace and Peace,


We Are the Ones We’ve Been Waiting For

Mirror imageLectionary Passage:  Isaiah 61: 1-4, (8-11)
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion— to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.  They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations.

The passage is familiar.  It is the very picture of hope.  Standing in the midst of ruins, the prophet (probably someone other than Isaiah at this later writing) foretells the perfect reign of God, the time when all Creation will be renewed and recreated.  This anointed one is the hope for the future.  This is the one for whom we’ve been waiting.


But in verse 3 all of a sudden the pronoun changes.  The prophet has proclaimed the year of the Lord’s favor and then “me” becomes “they”.  Who are “they”?  They, my friends, are us–all of us, those who have been anointed to bring righteousness, to build up, to raise up in the name of the Lord.  The city–all of it–all of Creation will burst forth from devastation.  It turns out that this prophet was not called to fix things but to proclaim that all are called to this holy work.


All of us are part of what the Lord has planted and nourished and grown to bloom.  All of us are “they”.  We are the ones that are called to become the new shoots sprouting to life.  We are the ones that are called to bring good news, to bind up, to proclaim liberty, to bring justice, to witness, and to comfort.  This Scripture may sound vaguely familiar to us for another reason.  In the fourth chapter of the Gospel According to the writer known as Luke, Jesus stands in the synagogue in his home temple in the midst of a world smarting with Roman occupation and cites these same words.  He acknowledges his own calling, he is commissioned to this work.  And he sets forth an agenda using the words of this prophet.  So, here we are reminded once again.  We are reminded what we as the people of Christ are called to do–to bring good news, to bind up, to proclaim liberty, to bring justice, to witness, to comfort, and to build the Kingdom of God, to be the very image, the very reflection of Christ in the world.


In this Season of Advent, we look for the coming of God into this world.  We look toward the fullness of God’s Kingdom.  We wait and we wait for the world to come to be.  But when we start beginning to look for someone to fix what is wrong in the meantime, we are reminded that we are they.  We are the ones for which we’ve been waiting.  We are the ones that while waiting with hopeful anticipation, we are called to spend our time bringing good news, binding up, proclaiming liberty, bringing justice, witnessing, comforting, and building the Kingdom of God.  Maybe that’s why we were called to wait in the first place–to reexamine our own lives, to find the “we” that God created.  God did not come into this world to fix the world; God came into our midst to show us who we are called to be, to lead us to Life.  We are the ones.  When it’s all said and done, God’s Kingdom will come to be when we become who we are called to be.  If God really wanted to “fix” the world, don’t you think it would be done?  God doesn’t want to fix us; God’s desire is that we live.  All of this waiting?…we are the ones for which we’ve been waiting!  It is our life for which we are preparing.


You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour.  Now you must go back and tell the people that this is The Hour.  And there are things to be considered:  Where are you living?  What are you doing?  What are your relationships?  Are you in right relation?  Where is your water?  Know your garden.  It is time to speak your Truth.  Create your community. Be good to each other. And do not look outside yourself for the leader.  This could be a good time!

There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart, and they will suffer greatly.  Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water. See who is in there with you and celebrate.  At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally. Least of all, ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.

The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves!  Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary.  All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. (The Elders Oraibi, Arizona Hopi Nation)


FOR TODAY:  For what are you waiting?  What do you have to do to become the one for whom you’ve been waiting?


Grace and Peace,