Advent 2016

Third Thursday in Advent - December 15th

Is 54: 1-10 // Ps 30: 2-13 // Lk 7: 24-30

The readings today struck me in a personal way---almost as if they were given to me because they were the very ideas I needed to hear as I begin my new job here at Villanova as a campus minister for social justice.  The theme of today’s readings seems to be about the ways we bring forth life from unexpected places in ourselves (Isaiah), and how we are in waiting for this new world, this new way of being in relationship to each other and God, that is just on the brink of becoming…(Isaiah, Psalm 30, Luke).

The reading from Isaiah spoke to me most powerfully.  Isaiah speaks of a woman who has been unable to bear children or who is ‘barren’, as many of the different bibles translate the Hebrew.  To be childless in Hebrew society at that time was seen as shameful, and a disgrace.   Isaiah turns the negative implications of barrenness around and proclaims that in the very ways we may feel we have been deprived or lacking---these are the very areas that will produce the most fruit in our lives.

So, even if you weren’t able to have children, get ready!  Expand your tent, lengthen the cords, and strengthen the stakes----because God who can accomplish the impossible will bring you, who has no family, many children and family members!  That ‘thing’ you don’t do well----never mind! God can take that and make great things come from the parts of you that you feel are inadequate.  One of my favorite stories in scripture is when Moses is asked to visit the Pharaoh by God…Moses responds, (to paraphrase and editorialize) “But I stutter! How can I, who has a speech impediment, make the case to this powerful man that he should set the Israelites free??”   God answers: “Don’t worry. When you get there, I will give you the words.”  And God did give him the words.

There is a beautiful song by Leonard Cohen called “Anthem”, and in it he speaks the same message of Isaiah in a modern way:

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

The very place we feel broken, is the place where God can actually get ‘in’ us and work wonders for ourselves and the world.  Isaiah’s challenge to us today is to reflect on the parts of us we hide from others, the parts that feel incomplete----and ask God to somehow work through these self-perceived failings to make something amazing that will benefit the world.

Irene King
Campus Ministry (2010)