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I write this on November 8th, Election Day. This hymn raises a prophet’s voice in me: By the time this is read, a month will have passed from this historical election year and its outcome. We will also be into the new liturgical year in the second week of Advent. On Sunday, we will have heard about John the Baptist’s prophecy which referenced Isaiah’s prophecy in the gospel of Matthew, the assignment from Lectionary year A. Already, the anxieties of this day will have begun to fade and transform.
These prophecies allow us to time-travel to familiar moments in our spiritual continuum. In them we hear the echoes of our moment from John and Isaiah who both issue dire warnings. They stoke fear and challenge the established power and class systems with specific stink-eyes trained on the elite and any others who aspire to usurp the God of love. John is described as somewhat of a kook, yet people flocked to be baptized by him and sincerely repented; even the confident Pharisees and Sadducees came to receive his verbal whipping and holistic cleansing. How did this “wild and lone” itinerant achieve such credibility? Is the repetition of this prophecy a prophecy itself, or perhaps, its fulfillment?
If we compare the cultural moment of Isaiah’s to John and Jesus’ and our present, perhaps we can see a macro-context and pattern. The annual appearance of John the Baptist’s and Isaiah’s prophecies keep us in mind that the season of Advent captures the frailties and continuity of humanity in time and creation; in God. The fragile shoot from the Jesse tree, a cry in the wilderness, an expectant mother without shelter; all are pregnant with potential. All stretch and reach with hope and anticipation of life and love incarnate.
Prayer: God of creation, we long to live into the life and love that transcend time and place. Help us in our fragility as we stretch and reach with hope for you. Amen.