Advent preparation leads me not only to review my own journey, but once again to review the “Light from the Ancient Past”— the Old Testament. I’m not referring to the boring genealogies found there, or the tribal laws of an ancient people as found in Leviticus, nor to those select passages that reportedly foretell the coming of a Messiah. What I meditate on are the writings of Isaiah (and other prophets like Amos, Hosea and Jeremiah). In rhapsodic language, Isaiah “speaks tenderly“ to a despairing people of a God who will release them from their bondage and restore the shattered foundations of their world. Isaiah speaks of a God who provides comfort, pardon, hope, and purpose in the midst of historical tragedy—a time not unlike our own.
The prophet suggests that history has a divine purpose from beginning to end, and that this God of history will make all things new—not just for a few “chosen” people, but for all humankind. However, the “chosen” are called to a mighty purpose. It is their task to be a servant of God—in a history not measured by a calendar, but by God’s activity, God’s purpose.
|The Golden Gate, Jerusalem|
“I, the Lord, have called you with righteous purpose, and taken you by the hand; I have formed you, and appointed you to be a light to all peoples, a beacon for the nations (Isaiah 42:6).”
Advent is “kairos” time—kairos is an ancient Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment. Advent is such a moment—a time in which we open ourselves up to God’s activity and purpose in the context of our present situation. It is a time in which all things can be made new—in me, in you, and this shattered world. Openness to the possibilities is the essence of Advent.