Lisa was a can-do person, efficient, straight to the point. Her boyfriend Ethan was more laid back, reflective, and a slower version of can-do. Lisa didn’t care for poetry and seldom used metaphors. Scripture consequently sometimes felt distant to her. Its poetry and metaphor seemed far from real life.
Ethan’s received scripture differently but he no longer debated it with Lisa. He could recognise quiet power in its imaginative and poetic stories and he drank in their inspired leadings to transformation. One of his favourite quotes, remembered from childhood, still gives him hope. It reads: “The baby shall play by the cobra’s den and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair. There shall be no harm or ruin on my entire holy mountain” (Isaiah 11:8-9a).
When Isaiah first spoke those words in the mid 8th century BC, he was mindful of Judah’s devastating occupation by the Assyrians. It was not unlike the brokenness of creation poetically described in the opening chapters of the book of Genesis. In the face of a broken creation, and more particularly the foreign subjugation of his people by the Assyrians, Isaiah proclaims the universal healing that would come to the people with their messiah. It is this same healing of creation for which the Church waits in Advent. Come, Lord Jesus!
Justice shall be the band around his waist,-Isaiah 11:5-6a
And faithfulness a belt around his hips.
Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
And the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
The calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them
O God, you will a just peace across the world; may the coming of your son dethrone human hate and enable forgiveness among all. From the greatest to the least may all peoples come equally into your presence where you live and reign with your Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
Christ, you walked on the sea,- From ‘In the Twentieth Century’ by James McCauley
But cannot walk in a poem,
Not in our century.
There’s something deeply wrong
Either with us or with you ...