Every Wednesday during the Advent-Christmas season, we will post a reflection from Larry Livingston, CFCA church relations director. We hope these reflections help you on your own journey through Advent.
ìÖhe shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the landís afflicted.î (Isaiah 11:4)
The second Sunday in Advent presents us with one of the most evocative images in Scripture. In this lovely reading from Isaiah (Isaiah 11:1-10), the prophet paints a magnificent picture of wolves reclining alongside lambs and babies playing in safety around venomous snakes.
He describes a peaceful land of hay-eating lions and gentle leopards, where former predators recline without aggression and the former prey roam without fear.
Isaiah uses this picturesque image to stir the imagination as he foretells the coming of the Messiah.
Writing in a time of upheaval for Israel, with the glory days of David long past and the kingdom largely decimated, the prophet seeks to both admonish and reassure the people.
Just wait until the Messiah ó the Son of David ó comes! He will restore glory to Israel and bring order and harmony to the land.
Flash forward to 2010. Disorder reigns and harmony is in short supply. Lions still eat meat and wise parents still keep their children away from snakes.
More than 2,000 years after the birth of the one Christians embrace as the Messiah, the world is no better than it was in Isaiahís day. So what gives?
Martha, left, from Nicaragua, and her sponsor, Suzanne
The people who first knew Jesus were forced to grapple with that same question. And, ultimately, those who chose to follow him had to let go of some deeply rooted, preconceived notions.
They had to empty themselves of their expectations of the Messiah as a great king or military leader in order to embrace a savior more powerful than they could have imagined. They had to take a leap of faith to discover the true Christ.
It is the same for us. At times we are tempted to wrap ourselves in our own preconceptions like a security blanket, especially at this time of year when the sentimentality of the holidays is hard to resist.
But if our Advent preparation ó our reflection on the coming of the Christ ó never gets past the baby in the manger, we canít grow in our awareness of who Jesus is and what he truly means for each of us and for our world.
We, too, must take leaps of faith. We must push our comfort zones and dare to dream, like Isaiah, of a world different from the one we now see.
Those who participate in CFCAís Hope for a Family program ó sponsors and sponsored persons ó have taken the leap of faith necessary to embrace the dream of a world where people share their blessings with one another and help lift each other up.
And their dream is coming true, one relationship at a time.