During Advent I find the tension of the in-between. Those in the time of Isaiah through to the time of the innkeeper with no room were waiting in unrealized expectation. They did not know that the manger led to the cross. They did not know that the line of David would be fulfilled in a wandering traveller.
They did not see beyond their own need for a mighty warrior savior to the fullness of grace that rose on the third day.
We have that knowledge. The knowledge that salvation is for the inward self as well as the outward turmoil.
That redemption and relationship go hand in gracious hand.
That the God of the universe could be contained in weary flesh.
But we are in the in-between.
We are no longer waiting for the babe in the manger but the warrior. We are waiting for the Mighty God, the redeemer who crushes oppression under his footsteps and strikes down the nations with a sweep of his arm.
Jesus our Mighty God.
We are used to the gentleness of the stable. The submission of the cross, the power of the resurrection. But we aren’t used to the Might of the Savior.
That’s a little too Old Testament for us.
Because we can understand grace, but can we understand a warrior’s heart? Can we look beyond the cross as a period and see it as the life-changing marker in a story that is not yet complete?
Can we look into the prophecies of the Root of Jesse, the Mighty God and see the power of the Coming King?
That’s a little less comfortable.
We can handle a baby but we don’t know what to do with a warrior.
After we read about the child born to us in Isaiah 9, the picture starts to change. We start to see the power and justice of this warrior Messiah. Not contained just as the Israelites expected, to vanquish the rod of their oppressors from Egypt to Rome.
This warrior comes to vanquish. To make all things new and right. To put to death the things that cause soul and body death.
That is our in-between tension. That we have the fragrance of Christ, the glory of his forgiveness, but we wait in the in-between. We wait for the seemingly unrightable wrongs to be made right. We wait for the fulfillment of promises kept. Promises to fix and heal this seemingly unfixable and unhealable broken world.
Jesus’ might on the Cross is a foretaste of the Returning Warrior. The Mighty God.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
Righteousness will be his belt
and faithfulness the sash around his waist.
The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling[a] 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 cobra’s den,
and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious. Isaiah 11:3-10
Though we feel like lambs among lions, our hands in the nests of vipers, one day the earth and everything around us will come to him. He will reach out his hand and all will be new, healed, restored.
And our journey is in the in-between. Gratitude and anticipation mixed. Waiting and fulfilled.
Reflection for the Week
Where right now do you feel the tension in your life of the in-between?
Where you long for God to be making new and right the old patterns and wrongness that you see around you?
Let this be your prayer and worship this week.
Ask God to show you his working in the difficult places and situations in your life.
Seek hope. Hinge upon the promises he has given.
Look forward to when all things will be made right and new because the Might God of Israel has done and will do this.
Carol of the Week – Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
Liturgical Readings for the week of December 6
Daily Readings from Watershed Church’s Vade Mecum (I was honored to be a part of their 2015-2016 season. Some of my devotionals come during the Advent Season)