Dr Di Rayson captures our collective weariness and longing as we begin our Advent journey in 2020.
On the first day of Advent, 2020, Dr Di Rayson captures our collective weariness and longing as we begin our Advent journey.
How long, O Lord?
In the last days
the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established
as the highest of the mountains;
it will be exalted above the hills,
and peoples will stream to it.
Many nations will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He will judge between many peoples
and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.
Everyone will sit under their own vine
and under their own fig tree,
and no one will make them afraid,
for the Lord Almighty has spoken.
All the nations may walk
in the name of their gods,
but we will walk in the name of the Lord
our God for ever and ever.
“In that day,” declares the Lord,
“I will gather the lame;
I will assemble the exiles
and those I have brought to grief.
I will make the lame my remnant,
those driven away a strong nation.
The Lord will rule over them in Mount Zion
from that day and forever.
We begin this season of Advent, preparing again for the birth of Christ. As we embark on this Advent journey, we both mark the end of the calendar year and we wait for the fulfilment of God’s kingdom on Earth when Christ comes again.
In today’s passage, we hear Micah as he rails against the militarising, centralised government from Jerusalem. He prophesies what God’s kingdom will be like in ‘the days to come’. We recognise this story as our own, don’t we?
In this prophecy, we recognise governments that pursue discord and animosity, and we long for rest. How tired we are of tawdry politicians? Of systems that fail us? Of governments that deceive and oppress and do not seek peace? These governments do not protect the creatures, the soil, the country. We feel helpless.
We are weary this year. A year that began with drought and fires, storms and floods, only to face the pandemic with all the harm and loss and isolation that it entailed. We began the year gasping for breath as smoke filled the sky and our lungs, the days blood red and the nights full of fear. Gasping for breath, too, were our brothers with police knees on their necks and those in ICU beds suffering from a new disease. So much tragedy, so much grief. How we long for the breath of God. All Earth longs for God’s restoring breath of life.
Micah tells us of a time when God’s house will once again be on the land: a mountain. The highest mountain. The narrative arc of the Bible returns us to the image of the Garden where God walks among the people. Where the weapons of war and oppression are not only destroyed, they are turned to garden tools. Where peace is described as resting under vines and fruit trees. The kingdom of God is an ecological balance with humans in harmony with the restored land, unafraid, walking in God’s paths and in God’s name. How we long for the days to come.
Come journey this Advent, you who long for peace, who gasp for air. Come rest in the garden.
Dr Di Rayson is an ecotheologian and Bonhoeffer scholar. She teaches, preaches and tends her garden on Biripi country.