A reflection by Sarah Rogers on: Isaiah 61:1-11, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28, and John 1:6-28
Advent is it seems dominated by the male figures in the bible, the patriarchs, prophets, now John the Baptist, Mary will get a look in next week. But, let us get past the patriarchal language, that it is of it’s time, and look at the meaning behind it.
John the Baptist quotes Isaiah saying “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’” (Isaiah 40:3). John prepared the way for Jesus to come 2000 years ago, but his words could equally well be said by any of us today. After all Advent isn’t just about waiting for the coming of the Messiah in the form of the baby Jesus, God incarnate here on earth, it is about waiting for his coming again and we must be prepared for that, there is so much to be done. The world we live in is a wilderness of famine, of violence, of HIV & AIDS, of environmental concerns and a wilderness where men and women don’t always have the same opportunities. These are all the sorts of issues that those of us who have been involved in UNCSW have been involved in.
The passage from Isaiah is part of a long statement about the role of the anticipated Messiah, is reads:
‘he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners’, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn.’ (Isaiah 61: 1-2).
The world has a lot of problems and they wont be sorted out overnight. Jesus the Messiah came to bring release to some of the problems the world faced in his day, and most importantly he died on the cross to bring ultimate release in the redemption of sins.
It goes on to say that those the Messiah binds up and releases will go on to restore the ‘devastations of many generations’, and that ‘you shall be called priests of the Lord, you shall be named ministers of our God.’ The work of the Messiah didn’t stop after the Resurrection. We are all called to continue that work and take our part here and now, we have been redeemed, we have been released and we must go on to restore the ‘devastations of many generations’.
The voice of women becomes more important than ever amongst what appears to be the male dominated Advent period. The patriarchs wouldn’t have got far without the matriarchs, John was a voice crying in the wilderness 2000 years ago and we are that same voice today. We are called to make the path straight because the Messiah will return.
Paul says ‘Do not quench the spirit, Do not despise the words of the prophets.’ So let us be renewed in spirit this Advent, let us listen to the words of the prophet and let us make straight the way of the Lord. Mary rejoiced in carrying our Saviour in the words of the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), and focussed on what God had already done and was going to do for all people. God continues to do wonderful things for all people, and finally the voice of women has been released and they are a powerful force, who care about the world, the environment and their communities and they will continue God’s work on earth and prepare the way for the second coming.