Each Advent, I commit to reading the daily lectionary, the Bible readings that prepare our hearts for the celebration of Christ’s coming. This year, I intended to write a brief reflection each day, but times being what they are, I’m a bit a behind. So let’s begin here: it’s Advent, day three.
Readings: Isaiah 1:21-31; 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12; Luke 20:9-18
The double helix of humanity is dotted with certain codes. Some carry the coding for blond hair or black skin. Some carry the coding for blue eyes or large feet. My coding gave me a crooked nose and a strong jawline. Yours gave you what? A unibrow? Puffy lips?
The coding—so much of it differs from person to person, but this much of it is identical: [tweetherder text="The black thread of rebellion weaves itself into each of our double helices. #Advent"]the black thread of rebellion weaves itself into each of our double helices.[/tweetherder] It has woven itself into over 108 billion Gordian knots since the serpent tricked our common mother.
And consider this other bit of sunshiny news on your first Tuesday of Advent: The King is returning, and he knows all the ways we’ve pulled and tugged our own black threads, the ways we've tightened our own knots and nooses. He's coming, and he intends to pull every black thread loose, whether by consent or force.
This morning’s Isaiah passage examines the black thread, and the prophet puts it this way:
"How the faithful city has become a whore! She that was full of justice, righteousness lodged in her--but now murderers! ... Everyone loves a bribe and runs after gifts. They do not defend the orphan, and the widow's cause does not come before them."
The parable of Jesus takes another approach, showing how specific men whose minds were set only on taking what belonged to the landowner (and aren't we all these specific men?) strung up the landowner's heir and put him to the death. Murder--isn't it in all our hearts? Don't we all wish to eliminate the obstacles of our occupation?
But here’s the good news according to Paul: we can find relief from our penchants toward bribery and murder. We can have our own black threads unwoven. Otherwise, could Paul encourage us to "lead a life worthy of God who calls [us] into his own kingdom...”?
Who has the power to unweave the knot? I suppose this is the question of Advent, the question that leads to more questions. How does God come again, and again, and again? How does he untangle our Gordian knots? Is it by consent or by force? When will he come and strip the blackness from our DNA? How does he move us from this kingdom of death and into his own kingdom?
Advent is here. Let's walk into these questions.
***The Practice of Prayer: Thanksgiving***