Each Year We Are Given The Opportunity To Reflect

We have come to that time of the year called Advent. It is a time in which we are to prayerfully prepare ourselves to celebrate the birth of Jesus in a manner that is appropriate to that great event. Each year we are given the opportunity to reflect on this august mystery and what it means to us and to the history of the world. With that in mind, the scripture passages we will meditate on over the next 4 weeks will help us prepare our minds, our hearts and our souls to celebrate the true meaning of the Incarnation.

Isaiah is the great prophet of salvation. This passage is well known to us. We have heard it many times before. Its language is beautifully poetic, and full of joyful promise. It uses powerful images to give a sense of what the Messiah will bring. This first verse is rich with an image of new life. It uses the image of a new shoot growing up out of an old stump, like a young tree from a nurse log in an old growth forest. This new bud, will blossom into something that will last forever. This passage is, of course, referring to Jesus, the promised Messiah. This new “shoot” will be watched over by the Spirit of the Lord, “Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord.” (verse 2)

This “Shoot” will be like no other before it. It will bring the true justice and peace that the world has been longing for since the Fall of Adam and Eve. It will be the product of God’s faithful love for his children. And when his justice comes everything will be changed. “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf, and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.” (verses 6-7) In other words the Original Innocence that belonged to Adam and Eve before The Fall will once again come into the world.

As Christians, we know that Jesus is the one of whom Isaiah was speaking. We know that the the Messiah has indeed come into the world, that his coming changed the entire course of history. Our meditation during Advent, then, is no longer on the waiting for the Messiah, but on preparing ourselves for his coming into our own hearts, minds, and souls today, now, at this time in history. Each year we contemplate and renew our desire to receive the fullness of this mystery of Innocence into our own lives. The birth we will celebrate again this year contains within it the whole history of salvation. He has come and we recall his birth with both joy and sorrow, for we know that we have often failed to live up to our faith. Yet, in the annual celebration of Christ’s birth we remember that we are called by Christ to grow in faith like new shoots rising from the stump of our old lives. You see, we celebrate the birth of Christ each year in order to renew our own faith in God’s love, and mercy toward us.

Lord, it is with faith, hope, and love that we prepare ourselves to receive you into the manger of our own souls again this year. Help us with your grace to live our faith lives as joyful examples of your saving love and mercy. We pray this in your most holy name, Jesus. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.
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