Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tuesday in Advent 4

Isaih 11:10-16
v. 12 He will raise a signal for the nations, and will assemble the outcast of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

By this point in Israel/Judah's history, Jews had scattered in a great dispersion to "the four corners of the earth." The reasons for this were similar to the reasons distinct peoples have dispersed throughout history to our own day: economic and political, matters of survival and well-being. Our text this morning promises that there will come a day when the scattered will be gathered. They will be brought home to the land of their ancestors.

For Christians, this gathering is of a different kind. For us, Jesus is our home and we scattered are gathered around him wherever we are geographically. The Church gathered replaces the land, so in Christian symbolism "Zion" moves from being a symbol of the land to a symbol of the Church.

For us in the sacramental tradition of Christianity, the Font and the Altar become those gathering points, where, whoever we are and wherever we've come from no longer matters. We are home around this place of bath and meal. Here we consistently meet Jesus and find ourselves at rest.

Despite this great truth, we Christians cannot ignore the scattering that continues and work against the forces that drive it, that make it a necessity for survival. This means attention to the treatment of the alien (legal or illegal doesn't matter--the Bible makes no such distinction) among us, but also attention to the forces of globalization that force, in particular, the poor to uproot themselves and search for a better home.

So there are two principles here: home as a right, rooted in the land promised to the people of Israel, the people of God; and home as a universal place of refuge, the home created by the new community, the church. May we be attentive and responsive to both.

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