December 25 stands out like a red nose in my calendar, so I know that it is only a few days away. When I was a youngster, calendars and dates didn’t tell me much about the coming holiday. Instead, my Christmas intuition was triggered by falling temperatures, snow and my grandparents’ home.
Colored light bulbs lined the rain gutters and garland wove around the porch railing of my grandparents’ home every winter. Inside, a set of remote-controlled carousel horses twinkled, danced and sang Christmas carols every time my cousins and I clicked the on-button of the controller (which would mysteriously go missing about once per year after we used it too many times). These traditions reminded me to go into waiting mode; they were hints telling me that wrapped presents were imminent!
Prophecies told the Israelites that they, too, were in waiting mode. In today’s Scripture passage, Micah tells the Israelites that a person is coming to be their peace; a person who would be their Shepherd. Now we know that the Israelites were waiting for Jesus, whose arrival we still celebrate every year.
Advent is a time to celebrate the Israelites’ waiting and a time to remember our own wait. Just as Israel waited for Jesus, we also wait for his second coming. Until that time when humanity is reconciled with God and Creation is made perfect, we cling to Jesus who has already come to show us how to live justly in the tension of an imperfect world.
In this season of Advent, pay attention to Jesus, who brings hints of a coming new world.
who are one of the little clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to rule in Israel,
whose origin is from of old,
from ancient days.
Therefore he shall give them up until the time
when she who is in labour has brought forth;
then the rest of his kindred shall return
to the people of Israel.
And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth;
and he shall be the one of peace.
If the Assyrians come into our land
and tread upon our soil,
we will raise against them seven shepherds
and eight installed as rulers.