Part of my discipline during Advent will be a small daily meditation, based on the daily reading from the prophet Isaiah, which the daily lectionary has us reading through the season beginning from chapter 1.
Just a small word by way of preface. It is not easy to read the prophets. By and large they have bad news to tell. In one sense that was there job. All that I can say is that making one's self read the bad news makes their moments of good news all the more stunning. And its important to remember that good news always comes. Whatever we're reading in the moment is not the last word.
v. 3: The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master's crib; but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.
On the Friday after Thanksgiving came the terrible news that a Walmart employee had been trampled to death on Long Island while a crowd literally pushed their way through a door in order to get at the early sales. It is a horrifying story. And yet, a part of me said, "Yep. This was inevitable."
"My people do not understand." They (we) allow themselves (ourselves) to be owned by things other than God, and literally "things." There is a straight line from there to injustice and even to violence. We can be dumber than animals, who at least are loyal to the hand that feeds them.
It is easy in a story like this to excuse ourselves. I would never participate in a mob like that, and that is probably quite true. Yet have I ever been competitive for something I wanted, even to the point of a good nudge? Chances are, yes, and in the biblical world view a nudge is as good as a trample (see Jesus about lusting in our hearts or being angry with a brother or a sister). There are no degrees of dumb in the Bible, there is just dumb--forgetting where we came from and why.
May we all spend some time trying to see through the fog of our dumbness this Advent, may we cling to the one who made us and not to the things that so dominate this time of year.