Commentary for December 12, 2010
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“Inconceivable!” It is one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite character actors in one of my favorite movies. (Wallace Shawn playing Vizzini in The Princess Bride. ) The line comes to my mind when I read Isaiah’s inspired description of the day the desert will sing.
Blind eyes opened, deaf ears unstopped, the formerly lame leaping about as deer; it’s all a fairly incredible scene when you stop and try to visualize it. God is coming to save God’s people. Incredible, inconceivable things will happen!
God’s Holy Way through the wilderness is a safe and inviting path. Once you’ve been found and have walked upon it, you really can’t miss it or mess it up. (NRSV: “not even fools shall go astray.”)
That’s a good thing to know. That, and “never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line!”
“Forever God is faithful…” is the lead-in to Chris Tomlin’s excellent praise chorus, Forever. (You can listen here if you don’t know this song.)
The Psalmist knew this to be true a long time before Chris put guitar chords to the words. God does keep faith forever (v. 6), and manages to do some other pretty cool things, as well: gives food to the hungry, justice to the oppressed, freedom to prisoners, and sight to the blind.
Mary’s words upon learning that she will bear the Savior of the world give a powerful witness to just how “upside down and inside out” the world of the Messiah will be.
Notice the series of contrasting images: Mary is lowly, but will be called blessed; proud people will be scattered; powerful rulers will be brought down; hungry people will be filled; rich people will understand what it means to be emptied.
Advent is, after all, a season for waiting. For patience. We’re kind of a hurry-up-and-get-it-now society, but James reminds us that patience is required.
I don’t suppose that the farmers of his time had access to the modern methods of irrigation that are available today. But, even big-time agribusiness can be brought to its knees by a drought that is severe enough. (For some perspective on the problems of drought around the world, check this link.)
“The farmer waits…being patient…until the crop receives the early and the late rains.”
We saw in last week’s gospel lesson that John the Baptizer was all about the action. You snooze, you lose; the proof is in the pudding; by their fruit you shall know them. That sort of thing.
When he sends disciples to ask Jesus whether or not he’s the real deal, Jesus understands and tells them to tell John what they have seen him doing.
Hmmm…when the world outside looks at the church, can they tell whether or not we’re the real deal? Or should they wait for another…someone else to show them a Savior?
by The Rev. Dr. Delmer L. Chilton
Back in the early 80’s, I spent a year doing post-M.Div. studies at the Lutheran Seminary in Columbia SC.
If you’re not familiar with the area, the Dutch Fork is West and Northwest of Columbia. It’s where the German Lutherans settled in the 1700’s and it’s full of Lutheran churches.
I couldn’t find the town or the church. Every road had a couple of brick Lutheran Churches, but none of them was the one I was looking for. It was less than 15 minutes before the service and I still couldn’t find the church.
My moment of ultimate frustration came when the road I was on dead-ended into another road. There were two signs facing me, pointing in opposite directions, each saying “Pomaria 5 miles.”
There was a farmer in the corner of the field, working on his tractor. I rolled down the window and asked, “Does it matter which way I go to Pomaria?” He looked at me, he looked at the signs, he spat on the ground and looked back at me, “Not to me it don’t.”
One thing you can say about John, it mattered to him which way people went; he was a sign pointing to the Christ. That was his role and he knew it, and he consistently deflected attention away from himself and onto Jesus, pointing to Jesus as the Messiah, the Anointed one, the Christ.