At the beginning of Advent Isaiah’s dream gave us a vision of hope for a fragile people in the midst of political and religious uncertainty. This dream was pondered and reflected on over centuries raising expectations of how its fulfilment would look.
But dreams are surprising things, they’re not quite what they seem, and their fulfilment doesn’t look quite how we expected. In many ways, I think Christmas, the fulfilment of Isaiah’s dream, is like that. Like the Israelites we are expecting a messiah who will “wield authority over the nations and adjudicate between many peoples.” (Isaiah 5:4) But what we appear to get is something very different, a baby, born to an unknown mother in dubious circumstances. It appears that the coming of the Messiah is quieter, smaller and far more interwoven in the nitty-gritty of ordinary human life and relationships than we have expected.
And this has important implications for us. Our expectations so often deeply affect what we are able to see. I know I’ve very often been caught out when I’ve been looking for something and can’t find it because it’s not in the kind of packaging I’m expecting to see. Something similar can happen at Christmas, our expectations of what the coming of the Messiah means blinds us to the quiet presence of God in our midst today. As approach Christmas in the midst of our own political and religious uncertainty what will help you to see the presence of the Messiah in the nitty-gritty of your life?
Image: Turvey Abbey, layout : Corel Snapfire Plus I