The cow and the bear shall be neighbors…
When I heard this line from the first reading for this Sunday, I thought two things:
- Nobody ever paints that scripture on a piece of barn word and then hangs it in their kitchen.
- Maybe I watch too much kids television, but a bear and a cow could totally be neighbors as long as one of them was dressed in overalls.
Isaiah is trying to explain how radically different the kingdom of the Messiah is from the way things are. Isaiah is seeking to break through the “this is the way things have always been” attitude of the people. He uses these irrational, fantastical pairs of animals who are mortal enemies in order to explain that when the chosen one comes, everything is going to be different.
If Isaiah was going to write one of these irrational pairings about you, who would he pair with you? Who is the lamb to your wolf (or vice versa)? What if God asked you to love that other person well (pssst, he did. Matthew 5:44)
Now that we are fully into Advent and the wreaths are out, gifts are being purchased, and Christmas songs blare ceaselessly on the radio, are you preparing for a different kind of life at Christmas time? Or are you preparing in almost the exact same way as last year?
If you are expecting the same experience of Jesus that you had last year, then maybe you are preparing in the same way. Isaiah and John the Baptist both are suggesting the that the God you are expecting is nothing compared to Jesus, the God who is to come.
Let’s make 2016 a year we prepare for Christmas differently because we are expecting a different experience of Jesus Christ at Christmas.
If last year you listened to a lot of Christmas music this time of year, then make just one of your drives in silence this year. On your way to work or to pick up the kids, or on the way to whatever it is you do, try going in silence and invite God into that moment of silence.