Grace and Peace to you.
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse….
With righteousness he shall judge the poor….
The wolf shall live with the lamb….
and a little child shall lead them….
They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain.
— from Isaiah 11.1-11
“One who is more powerful than I is coming after me;
I am not worthy to carry his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
— Matthew 3.11
Jesus is not coming to protect us from God’s condemnation, nor to set up a new hoop to jump through to get to heaven. He comes to save us from our own violence: to show us how to live gently with all Creation, since such harmony is what heaven is. He saves us by drawing us into God’s peace and breathing into us the fire of God’s love.
In this candled, starlit season we find it easier than usual to be peaceable with one another, to love our neighbors, to extend hospitality to strangers and enemies, to give gifts to the undeserving. It’s a good start. But Jesus does not come for a season, but for all eternity. He comes to change us forever. He comes as a little child, a child who will be hurt and destroyed—but he comes anyway. He comes as a lamb who lies down among us wolves, a lamb who will surely be eaten—but he comes anyway. He comes as the Gentle One to bear God’s tenderness to us; as the Harmless One to save us from our fear of God; as the Loving One to set us free from the terrible weight of our desire to hurt or destroy; as the Vulnerable One to invite us into that dangerous, world-changing place of non-violent love. He comes to transform us.
This Advent, pray that you may be baptized with the Holy Spirit of compassion, that the little child might lead you into a life of holy peace. Pray that the carols you sing, the gifts you give, the candles you hold, the greetings you send may change you forever. Pray that the gifts you receive this Christmas may be gifts of courage, love and creativity. In the Spirit of Christ, may you become more deeply a Child of Peace.
Copyright © Steve Garnaas-Holmes