Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Advent Promise

"The wolf shall 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. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. They will neither harm nor destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." Isaiah 11:6-9

I am guessing that most observers of Advent have favorite Scripture passages among those that are read over the course of the four weeks preceding Christmas. Some of the references have to do with Christ's first coming and some with His second. My own favorite, above, is one of the latter, one that promises that all of Creation will be redeemed and restored to its initial glory and harmony when Christ comes back.

I close my eyes when I hear these verses and wonder what the world will look like in that day. What will it be like to live in a Creation so perfect, so at peace, that the animals no longer devour each other and neither will they suffer from man's abuses? I think about what it will take to bring the Earth back to such a state. Not our best environmental efforts, though we must keep on trying. Not our collective good will to save species and habitats, though I work to that end myself. Isaiah says that it will take the earth being filled with the "knowledge of the Lord", with His Spirit so present that everyone and everything will be saturated with His goodness and grace. There will be no more need to hunt or desire to hurt and destroy and all of Creation will be sustained by His provision without the need to kill for food or sustenance.

Sometimes I want to cry out, as did some Old Testament writers, "How long, O Lord?" How long will the Earth and its people have to wait for Your intervention and restoration? I am impatient for the day when all will be made perfect again and fear and death are no more. Waiting is hard. Teach me O God, during this Advent season, to trust that You have your plan in hand and will accomplish it in due time... just as you did that first time, at Christmas.


Anonymous said...

It's very nice. I'm glad you're writing about your faith, as well as about nature. The verse you picked for the tagline fits perfectly. I love you. Merry Christmas!

Jim said...

Hi Ann, thanks for your note about your blog. It had been a while since i'd visited. (It's been a while since i've done much of anything else besides FedExing and sleeping.) Nice post.

It was while i was reading Kahlil Gibran some years ago that it occurred to me that, regardless of how carefully, how aware, and how "gently" we try to live, the stark reality is that, in order for us to live, something else must die... whether that be plant or animal. It has stuck with me all these years. The truth is, unless something/someone gives up life for me, i am dead - physically or spiritually.

What i still find so amazing is that, while a plant or animal dies so that i may live, there is One who died to give me life, yet He lives.

I look at the Church, perhaps much as you look at the world (my frame of reference seems so much smaller than yours), and wonder what it might look like when She is completely healed and whole.

Of course, i also think of C.S. Lewis' "Out of the Silent Planet" and consider that it's not just our planet that is thrown into such brokenness because of our sin, but the entire universe (as being "all creation") that suffers. I guess that expands my "perspective" a bit.

Ann said...

Thanks Jim, for thinking with me. Up until reading your words I hadn't really thought about the fact that Jesus dying and yet still living stands as being unique in all of Creation. I am having trouble thinking of another instance in which that is true. There are all manner of cases where something dies and becomes the means of life for something else, as you said, but after it dies it exists no more in its original form.

But Jesus is indeed the same yesterday today and tomorrow, isn't He? The contrast had just never occurred to me. Which is one of the wonderful facets of community and thinking together. An idea is put forth and then as others think and share it is expanded and deepened and, hopefully, wisdom grows.

As to your frame of reference, Jim, you know the Church so much more deeply than I ever will, I think. To turn your words around,I believe you live in the intimate awareness of the past, present and future Church much the same way as I am aware of the natural world. A major difference is that I see the world with my physical eyes and you "see" the Church with your spirit, since the whole breadth of her is not really visible at any given moment.

God works Himeslf into each of us differently to bring, through our shared perspectives, a clearer sense of who He is. It is His working that grants to each of us our particular vision through which we see and approach the world in the first place.

I appreciate what He has worked into your heart and mind and what I continue to learn from you. Thanks again Jim.