Northeastern Seminary Blog

Mary’s Expectation

Posted on Thu, Dec 24, 2015 @ 11:00 AM

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I miss my mother –

standing close to her

to light the Sabbath candles,

the smell of her warm challah bread

mingled with the scents

of her freshly bathed body next to mine

as we pray together and joyfully enter the sacred night.

 

I never dreamed of delivering my babe away from home –

away from her

in a city with its noises even after dark

so little holy quiet in this place

squatting in smelly borrowed room

the kindness of innkeeper’s wife nearby

brought tears to me beyond the pain of birthing.

 

Now with newborn in my arms –

fresh eyes open and slowly focus on mine

hold me

then close in trust and rest

and for one brief moment

Love’s nearness undoes me and

I hear the noisy night whisper “Holy.”

 

—Rebecca Letterman, M.Div.‘08

      associate professor of spiritual formation

 

Tags: reflection, advent, seminary alumni

A Voice Crying

Posted on Wed, Dec 23, 2015 @ 03:55 PM

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As it is written in the book of Isaiah, the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Luke 3:4

I have lived in Brooklyn for the past 20 years. One thing I have discovered about the city of New York is that there is a lot of noise. There are voices talking ceaselessly over thousands of radio and TV stations, sirens from ambulances, fire trucks, etc., and now and then one recognizes the unmistakable sounds of gunshots. Noise, as well as voices is everywhere clamoring for a hearing, but not having the answer to the needs of the world.

In this verse we hear it said of John the forerunner to the promised Messiah: "the voice of one crying in the wilderness" (Luke 3:4). John the Baptist has been described as a courier of the King, but he did not work for an earthly monarch. He was the advance man for Jesus. John was the immediate forerunner of the Messiah, opening up the way for the coming Christ. The Gospels tell us he was "a man sent from God" (John 1:6). He was very much of that prophetic tradition, cast in the mold of the greatest of them; in fact he was the last of their line. John didn’t call attention to himself; it was his mission as well as his message that mattered.

John was seriously proclaiming his message. He had good news in the words he quoted from Isaiah, "all mankind will see God’s salvation" (Luke 3:6). But it wasn’t good in the sense of being comfortable for the people. John was in the same prophetic tradition of Amos bringing news of terror: "Flee from the coming wrath … every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire" (Luke 3:7, 9). Why was John’s message so stern and why the language so uncompromising? He had to shake the people out of the false confidence which they firmly believed was their security, both as a nation and as individuals. They had grown up with the assumption that since they were the descendants of Abraham, and therefore members of the chosen race, they were already in a right relationship with God. This false security had to be broken down before they could come into a right relationship with God.

So John issued a call to repentance.

The people had to recognize that they had to abandon their pride of self-sufficiency, lineage, and false security. They had to turn away from evil ways and come to God as sinners needing forgiveness. When John saw Jesus coming toward him he introduced him to the crowd, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Jesus was the way back to God through faith in his sacrifice as the Lamb of God. Sin had to be dealt with and Jesus the sinless one had taken it on himself and dealt with it once and for all. Today, Advent reminds us that he came for this purpose.

I wonder as we are in the season of Advent now: who is that voice in the wilderness calling men and women to repentance? Who declares to those who need to hear that God is not pleased with the current climate of gun violence? Have we become so numb to violence that we have accepted it as the norm? If so, God help us! Why are there not churches, groups, people of good will, and people who are tired of the violence, coming together to unite against this evil? Why aren’t we all having a march chanting “Enough is enough?” I think we as a nation have become the murder capital of the world. No well-meaning citizen thinks this is a record of which to be proud. God is looking for people who, like the prophet John, are willing to make some noise, speak truth to power, and be a voice for God in all areas of life despite the consequences of such an approach. That, I believe, is the need of the hour; It is to call our nation back to God in repentance.

It is unconscionable that at this time of Advent, this time of peace and goodwill toward all, there are some who refuse to embrace all of scripture. Jesus called us as Christians, to “love your enemies, and pray for them who persecute you (Matthew 5:44). Many people hear the voice of God and yet seem to fall away. They do not think that this applies to some religious groups. They have become so possessed with fear and paranoia. In the time of John, it was the life one lived, not lineage that was God’s standard of measurement! So, calling ourselves Christians is not enough. We must as John declared “bring fruits worthy of repentance.”

John’s message wasn’t a cheap gospel. Repenting, being baptized, and then remaining the same as you were before wasn’t sufficient. Real repentance had as much to do with the future as with the past. It included the sincere resolve to amend our ways and renounce old evil. Luke records how specific groups of people asked John how this life of repentance applied to them. His answers were clear and forthright. The message of the Gospel had to work its way through all of life’s experiences. In other words, it’s not only for Sunday but for all of the other days of the week as well.

The wealthy and powerful were told to be open-hearted and kind. God can’t be pleased if the well-off don’t help those who have too little.

May God who is rich in mercy, bless and keep you all at this time of Advent, and may his peace be with you now and forever. Have a Christ-filled Christmas, A happy Kwanzaa and a prosperous new year.

Edward Jenkins Sr. (M.Div. ‘13) is the pastor of Ebenezer Wesleyan Methodist Church in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Tags: reflection, advent, seminary alumni

It’s Time for a Messiah

Posted on Mon, Dec 21, 2015 @ 11:00 AM

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In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth.  And all people will see God’s salvation.’ ”

Luke 3:1-6 NIV

We find here John preaching the coming of the Messiah at a very interesting time in history with the intersection of politics and religion. The message is clear, it is time for a Messiah.

Politically, Tiberius Ceasar, Pontius Pilate, and the three Tetrarchs were not nice people. A number of negative adjectives could probably accurately describe their individual character and policies, leaving the people searching for guidance. It was time for a Messiah.

On the church government side there were two persons serving as high priest when God intended that there should only be one high priest at a time. This tells us that the church at the time lost focus and operated with a spirit of division. It was time for a Messiah.

Fast forward to today and it is once again time for a Messiah. As I look at the world, I see a time when politicians misuse their power and the church misunderstands its purpose. Descent people are struggling to find a decent place to live, work and raise a family. Church is not a priority, yet our currency declares that it’s in God we trust. Are we truly one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for “all.” It's time for a Messiah.

Today as then, the message is the same; "Every valley", valleys of hopelessness and despair, "will be filled”—filled with hope and joy. "Every Mountain," mountains of poverty, unemployment, and homelessness, "will be made low.” “The crooked …” [crooks] “shall become straight” (straightened out). "The rough places," places where people have had a hard time, "will become smooth." People won't struggle always. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed. “And all people will see God’s salvation.”

Now more than ever, it’s time for a Messiah. It’s time for the expectant one. It’s time for the one who was born to us. It’s time for the one who was given to us. It’s time for the one who can shoulder the government. It’s time for the one who is, was, and shall always be, Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. It’s time for The Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God and the reason for the season.

Charles Wesley said it best, “Come thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee.”

Craig W. Douglass (MA, MSW '12) is ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church where he serves as presiding elder for the Western New York Conference. He also serves as a mobility counselor at Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME), a non-profit that works to ensure that all people in Western New York have fair and equal access to housing in their desired community.

Tags: reflection, advent, seminary alumni

Welcome to Wonder

Posted on Mon, Dec 14, 2015 @ 12:03 PM

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Every Advent season, I carefully reflect on the nature of God’s coming among us. It’s a time of remembering, of reviewing the surprising ways that God has broken into our world and into our individual lives. Advent is about God getting involved against all human odds.      

Consider the shepherds of Luke 2. The angelic announcement of Christ’s birth provides a clue to the nature of God’s shocking advent love. Shepherds were considered unclean by the religious leadership, and yet, the Messiah’s very first public viewing is to them of all people!  What unexpected Advent wonder! And what a sign of things to come!

Now consider the choice of Mary who was from a backward little village, a spot on the map of Judea, a peasant of lowly stock, and a girl- perhaps only 15 years old. Who would have thought of it but God? Yet this is the stuff of Advent. Indeed, I believe if Jesus were to be born in 2015 it might be somewhere like the troubled lower east side of Buffalo, or Ferguson, Missouri, or Kabul, Afghanistan. But then again, God is unfolding an Advent-charged future into which no life needed ever again be insignificant.

I am a son of an East Side Buffalo couple, born in the Depression. Who was I, born into a family marked with deep heartache and pain, to be discovered by the grace of God? As a boy, deeply wounded by it all, I would stare in despair for hours, days on end, year after year, out of my upstairs window into the darkness.  

Then into this life God came. After years of rage and drugs and isolation, God sought me out. It was Advent time—unexpected, uninvited, and in the middle of a football game! There I was, 22 years old, waiting to return the kickoff from the other team. I was standing beside Greg—the two of us in the end zone. I hadn’t seen him for about a year. (The last time was at a drinking party, where he’d told me about the latest house he had robbed.) Then it came- out of the blue: “Bob I’ve got good news!” “Huh?” “I’ve met Jesus Christ as my Savior.” It was Advent time! God took the initiative and entered this obscure young man’s life. Just like that—smashing into my life like a defensive tackle. (Maybe “smashing” is a little strong, for God never forces his way.) Jesus came as a baby among us. Yet come he did, and come he does! God has gotten involved in our world, and things will never be the same.

Another Advent encounter was on an unlikely day in California. It was in the early 1980’s when I was attending seminary. We were financially broke—borrowing five bucks here and begging five bucks there. On top of this, we had had two unexpected pregnancies and were facing monstrous debt. I was dragging myself back to our small apartment after another grueling day of rigorous study about God who seemed absent in our struggles. Then, suddenly, there she was, headed toward me down the street—a person from my college days in New York—Lois, a friend of an acquaintance. She was now living in Southern California, married to a doctor. As we chatted, I told her my basic story—without the bad stuff—but she seemed unsatisfied. “What else, Bob?” she asked. “How are you doing now?” So I told her. We were down, both emotionally and financially. I was questioning my call to the ministry. We were at our lowest depth—with two young children, no money, and skyrocketing debt. Feeling uncomfortable in sharing more with this relative stranger, I politely closed the conversation. Then, three days later, an envelope arrived in the mail with a check for $1,000. The accompanying note simply said that Lois and her husband would like us to have this!

Welcome to wonder—wonder that keeps meeting us with unexpected gifts of grace in our hour of need! Welcome to the God of Advent. Welcome to the God of shepherds and peasant girls. Welcome to the God of former drug-heads and house burglars. Welcome to Advent, where we have stumbled upon a manger, though it was all planned from God’s side of things. Behold he comes! Behold, it’s Advent time!

Bob Tice (D.Min. ‘12) is lead pastor at River Rock Church, a multicultural church in the inner city of Buffalo, N.Y. He teaches Theology of the City at Northeastern Seminary. This blog post was adapted from an article in Pulpit Digest, 1998.

Tags: reflection, advent, seminary alumni

For Righteousness in Our Neighborhoods

Posted on Fri, Dec 04, 2015 @ 12:00 PM

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People and organizations seem to be particularly generous this time of year. Donations of coats, toys, and food roll in intended to spread holiday cheer. People seem to think that the plight of the poor is the lack of resources when the reality of the matter is that joy and contentment have little to do with material possessions or the lack thereof. While most recipients are grateful for the seasonal relief, the rest of the year they are left to make ends meet on much less. Once the new year rolls around, the merriment of the season is replaced with the reality that little is changed by a few gifts or a free turkey. No one wants to rely on handouts. What people really need are jobs that pay decent wages, affordable childcare, and the opportunity to give their families a happy, healthy life. More than a few trifles that will be forgotten after a few days, what is truly needed is change in our economic, educational, and legal systems that remove barriers to living flourishing lives.

As I read through the lectionary passages for Advent this year, I am struck by the relevancy of the words for people today. Jeremiah said, “I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land” (Jeremiah 33:15). Our “land,” the neighborhoods in which we live and work, is crying out for righteousness. Our communities are begging for justice. From the African-American lives lost at the hands of law enforcement to the terrorist acts around the world, violence has left an indelible mark on our cities without recourse. Our children lack quality education, and families are trapped in cycles of poverty and dependency. Moreover, our refugee and immigrant neighbors are under unreasonable scrutiny, and left vulnerable to hateful actions rooted in fear and ignorance.

Yet, the hope of Advent lies in the one who will deal with the oppressors, and removes the shame of the powerless (Zephaniah 3:19). We anticipate the day when mothers no longer worry over the safety of their children, and people are judged by their actions rather than the color of their skin. As we reflect on the birth our Savior, we are reminded of promises fulfilled, and of those yet to be. We wait for the one who delivered the faithful in the past, who will do so in the future, as well. We celebrate the coming of our King who will strengthen his people and bring shalom that our world so desperately needs, where there is nothing missing and nothing broken (Micah 5:4-5). Our hope at Christmas time, and the whole year through, is in our Lord Jesus.

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Marie Moy completed the Master of Arts in Theology and Social Justice at Northeastern Seminary at Roberts Wesleyan College in May 2015.  She serves in the city of Buffalo through Jericho Road Community Health Center and Renovation Church.  Marie is passionate about Christian community development, and works with like-minded individuals and organizations to holistically restore communities.

Tags: reflection, advent, seminary alumni

God’s Expressions of Hope

Posted on Tue, Dec 01, 2015 @ 03:00 PM

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During this time of the year, humanity is reminded of the masterful artistry of God as we observe the variety of distinct colors displayed within the fall foliage. Each year, as senior pastor and pastor of Higher Heights Fellowship in the heart of the city, my wife and I enjoy seeing the masterful artistry of God being displayed specifically throughout the congregation and the community.

As part of our ministry over the past 17 years, our church family supported our community through the distribution of Thanksgiving baskets and turkeys. We have been blessed with the opportunity to distribute these baskets first of all to our widow/widower’s (fulfilling the Word of God) and then to unsuspecting homes surrounding the ministry. We also participate in a dynamic collaboration with other ministries serving a free Thanksgiving Dinner in the city’s northwest community center.

Serving in urban ministry, we have discovered that the needs are great and we could never have enough to meet the demand. But we make sure what we do is impactful. We all need hope. Life can be hard. Sometimes, we have to endure bad days. Other times, we face unrelenting heartache. Most of us face difficult times more often than we would like.

The season of Advent is about hope. It is not just hope for a better day or hope for the lessening of pain and suffering, although that is certainly a significant part of it. It is more about the hope that human existence has meaning and possibilities beyond our present experiences, a hope that the limits of our lives are not nearly as narrow as we experience them to be.

As we look at our world, we see hopeless situations. The news regularly bombards us with stories of the harmful and evil situations people endure. Hope can seemingly be lost. Yet as Christians we are reminded our hope is built on Jesus Christ.

The season of Advent affords us the opportunity to restore hope, love, and peace through Jesus Christ. Not to extend a hand out, but to extend a hand up. In the story of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:25-37, Jesus tells of doing the right thing at the right time for the right reasons, regardless of who you are doing it for!

My wife and I have witnessed the great difficulty of many during these last couple of holiday seasons as they try to partake of the celebrations with heavy hearts. Many have experienced the passing of love ones quite dear to them during this time, causing deep reflection and sadness. It is our prayer and ministry objective within the Advent season to extend a hand up to all those who may have experienced anything life altering, in an effort to keep hope alive. The Hope of Christ! May we all experience a new sense of the God’s hope and be filled with joy and peace this season.

Rev. Julius Brunson (MAT ‘12) is senior pastor of Higher Heights Church of God located in Rochester, N.Y.

Tags: reflection, advent, seminary alumni

Hope is Alive Through Christlikeness

Posted on Tue, Dec 23, 2014 @ 10:00 AM

For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given and the government shall be upon his shoulder and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

The bells are ringing; the carolEd_Jenkins_advent_reflections associated with Advent are being played on the radio, in homes, and in places of entertainment as well as in department stores. The lights and decorations are already in place. By now most have completed their traditional Christmas shopping.

Many centuries ago, before the first Advent of Christ, it seemed like there were expectations which were evident as the world then looked forward to something new, something exciting, something supernatural which would make for a better future in the world.

Today we long for a time of peace, brotherhood, and mutual respect for one another. There is the lack of respect for human life. The sanctity of life is no longer an ideal to appreciate, embrace or safeguard for some. There are those who engage in barbaric and inhumane beheadings of other human beings for all to see, with no feelings of remorse or accountability for those lives taken. There are mass executions of sometimes innocent human beings, bombings, explosions, etc., which continue to shake the very foundations, existence and future of not only those labeled as terrorists, but also those who endeavor to escape from these areas being bombarded.

The earth it seems is full of violence, not unlike the days of Noah (Genesis 6). In this country we have heard or seen in sometimes graphic videos people being killed before our very eyes. The murder of 20 innocent children and six educators in Newtown Connecticut is still fresh in our minds and is a stark reminder of the need to eradicate from the possessions of private citizens, the kinds of assault weapons used by the perpetrators of such tragedies.

Despite these travails and tribulations, there is, like the time preceding the first Advent, a certain air of expectancy: the atmosphere is pregnant with hope and heaven is about to deliver the blessing that good news is here upon us again. The sounds and feelings of joy are evident that yes, once again we are in the Advent Season and the celebration of the birth of Christ at is imminent.

May this Christmas be one of immense joy, peace, kindness, and goodwill to us all, and may the Christ of Christmas rule and reign in all our hearts. Let us demonstrate Christlikeness in all aspects of our lives and put Christ in Christmas, so fulfilling the real Reason for the Season.

God bless you during this Season. Have a happy, holy, Christ-centered Christmas, a happy Kwanzaa, and a prosperous, peaceful, progressive, and positively blessed 2015.

 

Edward L. Jenkins, Sr. (M.Div. ‘12) is pastor at Ebenezer Wesleyan Methodist Church in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Tags: advent

An Advent Meditation

Posted on Fri, Dec 19, 2014 @ 10:00 AM

An Advent Meditation

By Thomas Worth, 2014

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Our dog can sense a visitor a long way off.

He begins to growl and mutter in low tones.

During this Advent season I wait and look and long.

Do I sense a rumble in the distance?

I suppose I growl and mutter in my own way…

 

He, for whom the poets sang,

He, to whom the psalmists prayed,

He, about whom the wise pondered,

He, for whom the Exiles longed—

Draws near with a weight of glory.

He, for whom and by whom all things were made—is coming!

 

I sense the coming of him who defies description

Whose coming is so weighty it almost makes the earth tremble.

Creation seems to utter a subliminal groan

Longing for all the prophets foretold.

 

Will heaven and earth lose its moorings and flee away when he comes?

Or will the trees of the field clap their hands?

I get a sense in Advent of an approaching Immensity,

Something so huge and hard to comprehend—

And then, we hear the soft cries of a baby in a manger…

Tags: advent

Advent Reflection: Holy Intervention

Posted on Tue, Dec 16, 2014 @ 10:00 AM

Advent_Reflection_Holy_Intervention_Northeastern_Seminary_blogThe Bible is full of powerful statements about God's intervention in our lives: God watches over us, God goes before us, and if God is for us who can be against us.

God watching over us talks about God's protection and care for his children. Just as earthly parents make sure their children are taken care of with their needs provided and out of harm’s way, God makes sure that our needs are met and our ways are safe.

God goes before us shows us the Creator guiding our steps and providing direction to our lives. We don't have to worry about having a purpose because God is our guide. We would go through difficulties and obstacles, yet we can rest assured that we would cross to the other side of the valley because the designer of the path is leading us.

God is for us talks about him being our defender, our secure place. The Powerful of Heaven stands in defense of our souls against the attacks of our enemy and we can stand assured that no weapon against us could destroy our soul because the Lord of Hosts is for us, on our side.

Nonetheless, there is one statement that I believe is even more powerful than these.

The prophet Isaiah spoke about Jesus in this way: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

Immanuel. What a beautiful name! Now God would not only be watching over us, walking in front of us, and protecting us. Now God was coming to be with us, to be our companion—leaving a place in glory to be humbled—to be able to relate to you and me in our humanity.

We would not have to be alone any more. The God of the universe would walk by our side every day. God would be right there when we are excited, sad, hurt, and even angry. God would be the shoulder to cry upon, the chest to rest upon. God would be with us in a personal way as never before.

In fact, He is with us today! He is Immanuel.

 

Joanne_Green-ColonA year ago on December 16, 2013, we bid farewell to Joanne Green-Colon, a most faithful follower of Jesus. She will always remain known as a remarkable, talented, energetic, and creative woman who touched many lives in the Rochester community and elsewhere for Jesus.

This reflection, written on November 22, 2013 is published today in honor of Joanne with the permission of her family.

Joanne Green-Colon, M.Div. ’05 was pastor of Heart & Soul Community Church, Rochester, N.Y., and taught Church History and Children’s Ministry in the Certificate in Ministry Program at Northeastern Seminary.

Tags: advent

Second Saturday of Advent: Faithful living in an age of panic

Posted on Sat, Dec 13, 2014 @ 10:30 AM

Middleton_The_Justice_of_Advent_SaturdayDeliverance and judgment intermingled continue to characterize our Isaiah text. While Jerusalem is under siege, God tells Isaiah to write on a large clay tablet, “The spoil speeds, the prey hastens” (Hebrew: maher-shalal-hash-baz) as a witness to the coming deliverance. Then, somewhat later, but before the siege is lifted, Isaiah’s wife (the prophetess) bears a child who is to be named Maher-shalal-hash-baz, the same peculiar words as on the tablet (v.3). Like Immanuel, this name is a sign of hope, clearly specifying the doom of Judah’s enemies. And as with Immanuel, a time-frame is given. Before the child says its first words (“Daddy” or “Mommy”), the wealth of Syria (Aram) and Ephraim will be carried off as spoil by the Assyrian king (v.4).

Yet Judah is spared one enemy only to be almost drowned by another. Since the people are opposed to Ahaz’s policy of submission to Assyria (characterized as the waters of Shiloah that flow gently, v.6), God is bringing the mighty flood waters of the River, symbolizing the Assyrian king (v.7). The river of Assyria will not just flood Ephraim and Syria, it will overflow into Judah and reach up to the neck (v.8). Isaiah hints that only Jerusalem, which is the Head of Judah (see7.8), will be spared a thought that leads him to challenge Jerusalem’s enemies to do their worst since it will be thwarted by the gracious presence of “God with us” (vv.9-10).

Isaiah then received a stern warning from God (perhaps in response to his outburst of confidence) not to be fooled by the false bravado of the people (v.11). Rather than being carried away by the general panic of the times, Isaiah is to be in holy awe of the Lord of hosts who is the real actor in the momentous political drama being played out here (v.13). Although this God will be a sanctuary of refuge for those who trust in his historical purposes (difficult thought they are to accept), for the majority who want to resist the Assyrian empire (as was appropriate in the past) God will become a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense (v.14).

Just try telling Jews in the eighth century B.C. (or modern Christians in the twentieth A.D.) that the good old days of glory and triumph are over and that God now wills judgment and suffering for the nation’s massive sins, a suffering which can still be minimized, but not averted, if only they follow a policy of non-resistance. Changed times require a changed discernment, and Isaiah has been trying to prepare Judah for its drastically transformed role in the world. But to no avail. Even Jerusalem will resist (v.14), God grimly predicts, and many will stumble and fall, be snared and captured (v.15).

In our own period of chaos and panic over free trade agreements, factory closings, and government budget cuts, how do we find our orientation? It is easy to be swept away—almost drowned—by the wave of fear that sustains public reaction to events beyond our control, especially when that fear fuels a holy impatience born of biblical sensitivities. Yet if Isaiah’s discernment applies at all to our turbulent, recessionary times, so does his challenge to a quiet, persevering trust in God. Such trust, explains Peter (quoting Isaiah 8.12-13), is a fundamental prerequisite for our witness to the gospel—even if it leads to our suffering (1 Pet 3.14-17). In this we will simply be following our Lord, whose Advent in likewise turbulent times was, after all the beginning of his journey to the cross.

 

Dr. J. Richard Middleton serves as professor of biblical worldview and exegesis at Northeastern Seminary.

From The Advent of Justice: A Book of Meditations. Used by permission of Wipf and Stock Publishers.

 

Tags: advent