By the time you read this, you’ll probably be caught up in that frantic project that we’ve distorted as Christmas. Whether you rose at 4 a.m. on Black Friday to stand in line for a toy your favorite child just has to have or struggled through hanging lights on your porch roof, you’ve likely done something that left you frazzled. Fortunately today’s glorious passage from Isaiah is the perfect antidote to all of the above.
On that day,
A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,
and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him:
a Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
A Spirit of counsel and of strength,
a Spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,
and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.
Not by appearance shall he judge,
nor by hearsay shall he decide,
But he shall judge the poor with justice,
and decide aright for the land's afflicted.
Does reading this passage make you feel suddenly peaceful? Do you find your concerns about how to satisfy two families holding their dinners at the same time falling away? Do you remember that “Advent” means “coming” (as in the coming of Christ) not “coming to your cocktail party?”
Here’s my recipe for experiencing the austere glory of Advent by putting Christmas preparations aside for just a bit.
Sit at your computer and read this whole passage, letting the glorious cadences roll over you.
- Spend an extra five or ten minutes thinking about the meaning of your favorite lines – there are so many.
- Think about how the world would change if each of us lived these lines.
- Put a copy of this passage on your fridge or bulletin board. When you feel tense, take a deep breath and reread at least a line or two
- Reward yourself for a hard day of holiday preparations by turning off all the lights except those on your tree. Put the St. Louis Jesuit Advent and Christmas album “Gentle Night” on your CD player and savor this passage as it plays softly in the background. If you like, sip a glass of wine as you think about preparing your soul to receive Jesus instead of worrying that you still have to write 50 Christmas cards.
Have a blessed Advent!