Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Expectant in Bethlehem: Tuesday of the Third Week of Advent

O come, O come, thou Lord of might,
who to thy tribes on Sinai’s height
in ancient times didst give the law,
in cloud, and majesty, and awe.

(from The Hymnal 1982, Hymn 56)

“Do you know what a messiah is?” the teacher asks a group of preschoolers. This takes a certain amount of courage. Anyone who has worked with young children knows a question like this is just begging for a show-stopper answer. My friend Henry, age four, does not disappoint.

“It’s a wild animal with white and black spots!”

His mother tells me she inwardly rolled her eyes and wondered what the teacher was thinking. Of course this group of young children have no idea what a messiah is. What kind of a question is that? What kind of an answer is that? Then she reconsidered. Perhaps his answer is right on the mark.

Our messiah is decidedly wild. After all, that was one of the problems Jesus’ followers had with him. He didn’t act in predictable ways.  He couldn’t be counted on to keep the Sabbath in a respectable manner or to avoid hanging out with the wrong kinds of people. He challenged authority, stormed market places, and cursed fig trees.

We do not have a tame messiah. And I am thankful. When the world around me is a tempestuous storm, I need a God of might and strength and beauty. A tame messiah just won’t do.

I think it is very gutsy of us to pray the collect for the third Sunday of Advent and mean it: Stir up your power O Lord, and with great might come among us. Do we really want God’s power stirred up? Are we ready for God to sweep into our lives full of might? Are we ready for the messiah, The Wild Beast of God?

copyright © Anne E. Kitch 2012