Monday, Second Week in Advent

Isaiah 2: 1-5

1 This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem:

2 In the last days
the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established
   as the highest of the mountains;
it will be exalted above the hills,
   and all nations will stream to it.

3 Many peoples will come and say,

   “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
   to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
   so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
   the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
4 He will judge between the nations
   and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
   and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
   nor will they train for war anymore.

5 Come, descendants of Jacob,
   let us walk in the light of the LORD.

Enlarging Christmas

This advent season I’ve been struck by the overwhelming hope for the future that Christmas brings. Christmas might seem like a nostalgic remembrance of the birth of Jesus without much real connection to our lives in this present age. It becomes easy to put our hope in more tangible longings like that of presents and good times with family. We’re bombarded with these images and expectations that emphasize this Christmas and making it the best one ever. I can’t help but feel like I’m settling for something too small when my only hope is for Christmas to provide a time to relax and be with family.

When I look at the prophets scriptures and the claims Jesus made about the new kingdom he was bringing, I am filled with an incredibly huge image of global transformation that goes beyond myself, my family, and my community. Jesus ushers in the beginning of a new reality that is beyond my own imagination. Peace and reconciliation be brought between people groups across the entire world. Warriors turning weapons into farm tools. The end of all war. Captives being set free. The Lord's favor being upon all of the earth. The blind being healed. The lonely being comforted. The weak being made strong. The broken relationship humanity had with God being healed. Its clear Jesus didn’t come just for my own individual salvation, but for a new way of life, a global revolution, and a new hope for the future.

So how can we resist being filled with an incredible hope this advent season that doesn’t just point back to an event 2000 years ago, but directs our lives towards a new future, where justice rolls on like a river and streams of water come to those thirsting in the deserts of life? I look around and I see this new kingdom coming here on Earth in foreign missions overseas that release children from sex slavery, in my own community where people are living intentionally to love the marginalized among them, and in my own life where my selfishness is being exposed and transformation is beginning. It’s not a distant future or a hope too big, but it’s the overflowing hope for the new world that Jesus set into motion.

Setting our eyes on Jesus’ Kingdom, we can’t help but anticipate and long for the Kingdom to come more fully in our lives, our communities, and our world. I pray that this advent and beyond you would be challenged and filled up by the hope Jesus, God incarnate, the Prince of Peace, the Son of Righteousness, Wonderful Counselor, el autor de la vida, el Camino, el Primero y el último brought to our earth and calls us to live for.
--Nate Schneck '11