Wednesday of the third week in Advent

Isaiah 45:6-8,18,21-25; Psalm 84:9-14 (LXX); Luke 7:19-23

Turn to me and be saved,
all the ends of the earth!
by myself I have sworn,
from my mouth has gone forth in righteousness
a word that shall not return:
To me every knee shall bow,
every tongue shall swear.
Only in the Lord, it shall be said of me,
are righteousness and strength:
to him shall come and be ashamed,
all who were incensed against him.
In the Lord all the offspring of Israel
shall triumph and glory. (Isaiah 45.23-25)

. . .

So says Isaiah, about the coming of the Lord’s anointed, the messiah. And yet, it doesn’t quiet look like what we might reasonably expect, given the prophecy. Jesus comes into the world not in glory and power, but in a stable. He is born not into the aristocracy, but to Joseph and Mary. When he begins his public ministry by attending to the poor and outcast, John is understandably (it seems to me) perplexed: ‘are you the One who is to come, or do we wait for another?’

Jesus’ answer suggests something about what the ‘triumph and glory’ the Lord brings forth in Israel; he says to John’s disciples, ‘Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is he who takes no offense at me’ (Luke 7.22-23). The ‘triumph and glory’ cannot be separated from the healing and peace God promises to Israel.

It seems that the dwelling of glory in the land (Ps. 84.9) involves the gentle union of justice and love, and that salvation comes mightily and yet tenderly:

Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
Faithfulness will spring up from the ground,
and righteousness will look down from the sky.
(Ps. 84.10-11)

Into that power and tenderness we are drawn, especially at Advent, as we await the One who comes in glory, heralded by angels, who is also the One who comes in Love. Into that Love we are drawn, by that Love we are healed, and to remain in that Love is the blessedness of our eternal salvation.

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