It was a prophecy for the pre-exilic people of Judah, and a prophecy for the those who lived under Roman rule in the time of Jesus , but of course, it still speaks to us. The ethics of God offering a radically new way to live in the world, and a different understanding of where power lies, is equally as relevant today when so many leaders look towards a profitable culture of war rather than a child of peace.
And this passage gives a vision of what life could be like…of what life should be like. And we desperately need that vision. We need that image. Without a vision of what the world could be, we remain hopeless stuck where were are.
Now I don’t want to go all “Speak it in to being” or “If you can see it, you can be it” on you. That sort of stuff gives me a rash. I have an aversion to one-liner theology. If it works for you, great. Use it!
But this is something deeper. This Biblical image is a gift of vision. It was a gift of vision to the people of that time. When things were still dark, this offered light. While people were still living in sorrow, it offered joy. It provided hope for a peaceful tomorrow while war was still raging today.
And it is a gift of vision for us today.
Theologian Paul Tillich said, “There are many things and events in which we can see a reason for genuine hope, namely, the seed-like presence of that which is hoped for. In the seed of a tree, stem and leaves are already present, and this gives us the right to sow the seed in hope for the fruit. We have no assurance that it will develop. But our hope is genuine.”
Wishing you all genuine hope this Advent season.
–Rev. Anne Russ