To quote Jack Good, “The text, then, is about both calling and task. Those who speak out must be able to report: ‘I cannot refrain from doing this. I am anointed by, pushed by, inspired by One who will not let me express my faithfulness in any other way.’ The opening scene of Jesus’ public ministry left no doubt: a commitment to Jesus involves a commitment to build communities of peace and justice. But first comes the calling.”
But that’s not the molten core of your ministry. That’s not why you are called, at the foundational level of that vocation. You’re called because you’re loved. All that other stuff might be true, but it’s secondary to the fact that God is abundantly pleased with you. You might not hear a voice or see the clouds part and a dove might not descend, but it’s still true. God says, “You are my Child, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness.”
What counts, what really counts at Christmas time, or any other season of the year for that matter, is being with. Time spent, sincere words exchanged, authentic presence offered— that’s what really matters. We know deep down that money, flattering words, and other “stuff” are poor substitutes.
God is indeed with us, and there is hope, but the sign of that promise doesn’t look like our normal conceptions of power. The sign God sends is of a different kind of power, one that is patient and enduring and willing to play the long-game. A mother will give birth to a child who will grow up and “learn to reject evil and choose good.”
Advent reminds us that his is the sort of “dawn” that comes to us in Jesus Christ. Like the sun, that light is life-giving, but it also uncovers injustice. It gives hope and offers the promise of a new future. A new beginning emerges so faintly that it’s almost undetectable… at first.
It’s so, so tempting to only see stumps. But the season of Advent takes us back to the hope that Christ brings, the light shining into the darkness of this world. And Christ’s is not a passive hope, but an active one that enlists us in its service as partners, as co-creators.
Was this the sort of wisdom Israel craved, and even prayed for, in a leader? Is this the wisdom we want in a teacher? Is this the way of life we choose as disciples?
It is nobody’s kingdom, but in the reign of Christ our identity, as God’s beloved, gives us power to be the people of God in a time and place where people are grappling for position and seeking power.
So this is my prayer today: that we, too, would hear God’s voice, even if it’s in a whisper. That we would remember that no, we are not perfect, but we are God’s people. We’re not sent out empty handed. We’re not alone in what we’re called to do. The God of Hosts goes with us!
But by virtue of our baptism, God’s mighty claim on our lives, each of us are compelled to be prophetic. We not think of ourselves as prophets in the typical sense of the term, but we can all speak and act prophetically. And that takes on so many forms for each of us, in any number of situations in which we find ourselves.