The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord‘s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
Isaiah 61:1-2 (English Standard Version)
We’re sleigh riding along into the First Week of Advent, and we see Madison Avenue in its glory: preceded by last week’s Black Friday and beginning with this week’s Cyber Monday. I’ve seen people queuing up for stores to open; and cars lined up out into the highway to get in to a local mall. Despite the fact that we’re transitioning into a new Presidential administration in the US where people are watching their wallets, we’re exhorted to spend our dough on many big-ticket items: from the newest X-Box to luxury automobiles. Advent-the time of waiting for the coming Christ-has been corrupted into the “Holiday Shopping Season”-the time of waiting in store lines for the coming bargains.
Plus, Advent has become the Holiday parties, movies, and social events that are cranking up. It’s the time our offices and other tribes are breaking out the grub and grog for us to make merry; and the cheap “Secret Santa” gifts. Hollywood is cranking out the latest “blockbuster” on the big screen; or some gooey “feel good” TV special. Plus, many of us will fall in love (or lust) during the Holidays thanks to mistletoe, mixed drinks, and the movement of hormones.
However, is there an Advent for the rest of us? Is there an Advent for those who aren’t going from mall to mall and website to website shopping? Is there an Advent for those mentioned in tonight’s Scripture? There are many who are poor among us, who cannot afford the advertised “toys” to shop for. Many are lonely and have no one to make merry with. There are the brokenhearted-for whatever reason-who finds this time of the year a burden. What about those captive: in physical, mental or spiritual prisons? What about those who mourn with an empty chair at the Holiday table? What about those who have been the victims or (real) injustices? Is there an Advent for the us who are still waiting for the Christ to come into their lives?
Tonight’s Scripture was Isaiah’s announcement of the “Year of the Lord’s Favor” to those who are marginalized this Season. Jesus read from this passage centuries later at the start of his ministry (ref. Luke 4:16-19)-one who was marginalized himself. God is showing Divine favor on the poor, the lonely, the brokenhearted, the captive, the prisoner, the mourning, those seeking Divine justice in their lives. This isn’t the “favor” you hear Evangelicals boast about-no, this is God’s assurance that He/She has remembered those left out by society. That God will see about those in tonight’s Scripture who has suffered enough through the ministry of the Coming Christ.
For the rest of us, let us remember that Advent is for us-those waiting for the Coming Christ into our lives. Let’s take comfort in knowing that Advent wasn’t hijacked by the carnal commercial craze that’s the current shopping season. We can have the assurance of God’s Favor. and that He/She will see about us right here and now.
There is an Advent for the rest of us.
Prayer: Father/Mother God, as we try to navigate through man’s celebration of instant gratification and greed, help us to remember the Coming of Your Christ into our world. How Jesus the Christ preached to the marginalized of his day; those who suffered as we do today. Help us to watch for the Coming of Christ into our lives right here and now so that we will have the joy and peace only You can give. In Jesus’s Name, Amen.
(Image by Me: “Waiting.” New York City)