Sunday, December 04, 2016

Astonishment Seized Them All

Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; With divine recompense, he comes to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; Then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing. Isaiah 35:3-4

And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed; they were trying to bring him in and set him in his presence. But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle in front of Jesus.  When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “As for you, your sins are forgiven.” Luke 5:18-20

Behold the king will come, the Lord of the earth, and he himself will lift the yoke of our captivity. But for now, our job is…to wait…to prepare…to pray.

We are accustomed to promises unfulfilled.  Products are bought and do no work.  Clothing ordered arrives in the wrong size.  Repairs paid for break down before we get home.  In our culture of plenty, we know the bitter taste of disappointment. 

How much more must the poor of ancient Palestine know disappointment? They have been waiting for thousands of years for the Messiah to come “with vindication.” To people who lost their land, their king, their Temple, their freedom, Isaiah (and Gabriel) bring a message of hope.  Yesterday, the Sunday liturgy reminded us that peace and prosperity that will come when the “root of Jesse” blossoms. The people who heard that promise anticipate a kingly ruler who will right all the wrongs, bind all the wounds and heal all the suffering.  When they finally realize that the promised One is Emmanuel -- in their midst -- at first, they do not know what to make of the carpenter’s son.  “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”  Then, with mounting evidence, they go to great lengths to be in His Holy Presence.

The paralyzed man’s friends wanted what was best for their companion.  However, the crowds were so dense, the lines were so long, the wait was so endless.  How could they get their friend before the Nazarene who has “power of the Lord…with him for healing”?  Drill a hole in the roof and drop him down!  They would not quit until they solved this problem.  The efforts of this “group reunion” were generously rewarded. 

Isaiah made the promise ages ago.  “[T]he eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; Then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing.” Jesus fulfilled it. “Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God, and, struck with awe, they said, “We have seen incredible things today.”

What incredible things have you seen today by the light of the second Advent candle?  

Into who or what power are you held in captivity?  Are you getting ready to come and see how Jesus will free you?   

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