Fourth Advent Reading

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Scripture – Isaiah 11:1-6

1 A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. 2 The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. 3 His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; 4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. 5 Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins. 6 The wolf shall live 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.

 

Advent Reading – “Unexpected” by Ann Weems[1]

Even now we simply do not expect

         to find a deity in a stable.

Somehow the setting is all wrong:

      the swaddling clothes too plain,

      the manger too common for the likes of a Savior,

      the straw inelegant,

      the animals, reeking and noisy,

      the whole scene too ordinary for our taste.

And the cast of characters is no better.                       

With the possible exception of the kings,

         who among them is fit for this night?

      the shepherds? certainly too crude,

      the carpenter too rough,

      the girl too young.

And the baby!

Whoever expected a baby?

Whoever expected the advent of God in a helpless child?

Had the Messiah arrived in the blazing light of the glory

         of a legion of angels wielding golden swords,

      the whole world could have been conquered for Christ

         right then and there

      and we in the church – to say nothing of the world! –

         wouldn’t have so much trouble today.

Even now we simply do not expect

         the face the world armed with love.

 

Lighting the Candle

 

Prayer: Surprising God, sometimes we find ourselves in a comfortable rut. We hunker down in our rut, doing what we’ve always done because we’re comfortable … because we can … because we don’t really know what else to do. Shake up our routine, Holy One. Speak to us in the unexpected. Lead us in the unexpected. Remind us that nothing was more unexpected than ultimate power in a tiny baby. Nothing is more unexpected than salvation in a criminal’s death on a cross. Help us to embrace the unexpected instead of fearing it. Help us to look for you in those unexpected moments – your grace, your love, and your triumphant glory. Amen.


[1] Ann Weems. “Unexpected” in Kneeling in Bethlehem: Poetry for Advent and Christmas. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1993), 47.

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