Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday in Advent 4

Isaiah 11:1-9
v. The wolf shall lie down with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.

This morning's reading is one of Isaiah's great visions of newness, beginning with the familiar, "A shoot shall come out of the stump of Jesse..." Again, it is a passage that Christians have always found pregnant with meaning, birthing, among other things, "the Jesse Tree," a tree growing from Jesse with its branches composed of the ancestors of Jesus, culminating in Jesus himself. Google "Jesse Tree" and you'll get all kinds of images of it, including the famous stained glass window at Chartres Cathedral.

This prediction of a new ruler explodes into a full blown vision of a renewed and transformed creation, as in the verse above. It is an impossible vision. Woe be to the lamb that tries to lie down with a wolf! It is actually a vision of Eden restored, where nothing has to kill anything else to survive. Indeed, the vision ends

They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

"They will not hurt or destroy." This is the meaning of "the Prince of Peace," whose birth we are about to celebrate. Jesus himself came not to hurt or destroy, except the oppression of the powerful. And there's the tough part for us as we seek to follow this Prince of Peace. We must give up all our attempts to hurt or destroy on either a macro or a micro level. The good news is that in Jesus' kingdom my lamb is safe with your wolf. The bad news is that my wolf has to find something else to satisfy his hunger.

When wars were fought mostly among Christians (what an oxymoron that!) there was the tradition of the Christmas truce and there are even stories of enemies sharing Christmas dinner together. May we declare truce in all the minor hostilities of our lives not only on Thursday, but for ever.

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