This week we begin a four-part series leading up to the coming of Christ at Christmas. Advent marks the beginning of the new year in the Christian calendar, and here at Spectrum we will be featuring short reflections by a variety of authors on each week's texts from the traditional Christian lectionary used by churches around the world. As Adventists, we look with hope to the great Second Advent. Let us also celebrate with joy his First Advent as we open our hearts to his coming this holiday season. -Rachel Davies
We invite you to meditate privately on each text before reading the reflections that follow. _________________________
Isaiah 2:1-5 (New Living Translation)
This is a vision that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem: In the last days, the mountain of the Lord’s house will be the highest of all—the most important place on earth. It will be raised above the other hills, and people from all over the world will stream there to worship. People from many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of Jacob’s God. There he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” For the Lord’s teaching will go out from Zion; his word will go out from Jerusalem. The Lord will mediate between nations and will settle international disputes. They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore. Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord!
Reflection by Joelle Chase
[Note: 500 mountains in the Appalachians have been destroyed through Mountain Top Removal (MTR). MTR sites are most often “reclaimed” with golf courses, Walmarts or maximum-security prisons. Coal is harmful with every use (except below ground, serving as a natural Brita water filter); byproducts of mining (such as fly-ash, sludge, toxins and greenhouse gases) harm the environment and local residents. About fifty percent of our energy comes from coal. The US military is the biggest consumer of fossil fuels.]
The mountain of the Lord: Glen Alum Belcher Elk Burnt Knob Maxwell Gap Pine Ridge Fork Ridge Trace Ridge Cole Spur Looney Ridge Spur Brushy Point Laurel Summit in Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky and 488 more
and in their places we gather to golf and shop for less and pay homage to our god;
in my father’s house are many rooms, cages, cells—a mountaintop “reclaimed”—but people of the Cherokee Nation walk away evicted and homeless.
water streams poison: tomatoes rot in their jars and those who dwell in the house of Massey and Peabody drink arsenic, barium, cadmium, lead, selenium; O Jerusalem,
your body bared, dismembered feeds ravenous appetites for consumer goods
and war. violence toward nations and nature go out from Zion's hill, and the EPA mediates
while we walk in light of burned coal. God,
raise your mountains; hammer the jaws of draglines and excavators and our SUV monsters into plowshares. come, Jacob’s
God, make your home with us and teach peace. come,
displaced species back along the Trail of Tears home, come.
descendents of Jacob, walk in the simple daylight.
[In 1838 the U.S. military forced 14,000 Cherokee to leave the Appalachians. Of those, 4,000 died on the long march to Oklahoma."
To learn more and about MTR, visit these websites: The True Cost of Coal: http://www.beehivecollective.org/english/coal.htm End Mountain Top Removal: http://www.ilovemountains.org/]
Romans 13:11-14 (The Message and The New International Version)
But make sure that you don't get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can't afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don't loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!
And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.
Reflection by Sarah Fusté
Put on the armor of light! Clothe yourselves with Jesus Christ!
Climb into Christ. Pull Him on like trousers, like a favorite shirt, wrap Him around your neck as a scarf and slide Him on like loafers. Choose to wear Jesus next to your epidermis.
Here are some outfits that might flatter:
-not bickering with your spouse over who gets to change the baby’s diaper or whose fault it really was that the credit card was overdue
-not grabbing to oneself an endlessly renewed wardrobe of clothing stitched together by suffering third world children
-not squandering time with mindless news entertainment or Facebook gossip that turns tragedy into a two-second headline and human conversation into hiccupy little sentences
-not indulging in regular feasts of deep-fried Fri-Chik and French Silk ice cream while your body becomes toxic and tired
-not thoughtlessly using disposable tablecloths and plastic dinnerware while the good earth is suffocated beneath the unrottable rot
-not lusting after sexy bodies and imagined fulfillment in someone else while ignoring the relationships you do have
-not treating your body and mind like they are impervious to influence and choices.
Choosing to live “like a Christian” can do some work from the outside to change our hearts, but the true mystery happens as Christ incubates within us, as the Christ child we await in this Advent season grows in size and in health within our wombs (something we can long for, hope for, pray for, but may only receive). And in that final, agonizing-yet-relieving push as Jesus flies out of you, is lifted to your heaving breast... as you encircle the slippery, warm little body of your baby... you gaze into his eyes and are utterly transformed by love. The miracle of Jesus next to your epidermis.
Matthew 24:37-44 (New American Standard Bible)
For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left. Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.
Reflection by Delcy Kuhlman
Advent – part of our name – part of who we are – people who know that Jesus came and dwelt among us and who deeply hold the knowing that He will return and gather his beloved home with Him. We are people held by Jesus’ words of warning. Be ready. We remember Adam and Eve and the results of them disregarding God’s warning: "Don’t eat of that tree." We read this call to “Be ready, you won’t know when I’m coming” through inbred fear.
Was Jesus’ intent to frighten us into readiness? I think not! “Be ready” could just as easily be an invitation from ONE who longs to be in loving communion with me every moment of my day; in eating, drinking, entering into intimate relationships – in all the ordinariness of my life. Aren't we all being invited to be watchful, with our eyes wide open, alert to His presence with us in every part of our day? Might that practice of His presence keep us aware and ready to meet Him face to face whenever that joyous moment occurs?
Oh, God, keep me open to you each moment of this Advent season. _____________________________
Joelle Chase is an intern at the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Sarah Fusté is co-director of Still Waters Retreat Center in Buchanan, Michigan.
Delcy Kuhlman is the founder of, and a spiritual director at, Still Waters Retreat Center.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/2792