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Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year C

Micah 5:2-4

But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has brought forth; then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth.

I'm preaching this Sunday, so as much as I love the Magnificat, which is part of this Sunday's gospel, I thought I'd comment here on something I'm not preaching about.  After all, you can always check out the sermons page next Monday to see what I had to say about the Magnificat!  So this week's blog will look at something else — specifically, at Micah.

Some years ago, I was persuaded to go to a Christmas production at a immesnsely wealthy and absolutely huge mega-church.  It was quite a spectacle — there were live camels carrying the magi down the center aisle of the church, angels suspended by a state-of-the-art rigging system zooming over the heads of the audience, and glittering costumes.  It was very professional, very colorful, and very spectacular — unmistakably grand. The Glory of Christmas, it was called.

And then I look at this coming Sunday's reading from Micah.  The expectation that the one coming to rule Israel will be "great to the ends of the earth" is certainly grand, but the primary images in the passage are not what I'd call Hollywood special-effect moments.  A woman in labor.  A shepherd feeding a flock.  It's rather mundane, really.  But the inbreaking of the kingdom we anticipate is like that.  It's not a special effects moment, any more than the planting of a mustard seed is a special effects moment.  But Micah presents this moment of childbearing and shepherding as the downfall of the mighty kingdom of Assyria.

That kind of thing — the inbreaking of the kingdom amongst and through the mundane — is the real glory of Christmas, I think.  If God's kingdom arrived with fireworks, we wouldn't need to look or listen for it; we could just wander outside once we heard the booming.  But it isn't like that.  Being present in the darkness of Advent sharpens our sight and trains our ears to look and listen for a single star and the cry of a child.  Turn up the stereo or point your telescope ten more degrees to the right and you could miss it.  But that moment, that quiet and not particularly spectacular moment, is the advent of a world of possibility.  Keep watch!  Listen up!  And pay attention to every moment.  The Christ is coming!

December 15, 2003 in Advent, Micah, Prophets, Year C | Permalink

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Dylan's lectionary blog: Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year C

« Third Sunday of Advent, Year C | Main | grid blog :: Advent 1 :: Seek »

Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year C

Micah 5:2-4

But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has brought forth; then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth.

I'm preaching this Sunday, so as much as I love the Magnificat, which is part of this Sunday's gospel, I thought I'd comment here on something I'm not preaching about.  After all, you can always check out the sermons page next Monday to see what I had to say about the Magnificat!  So this week's blog will look at something else — specifically, at Micah.

Some years ago, I was persuaded to go to a Christmas production at a immesnsely wealthy and absolutely huge mega-church.  It was quite a spectacle — there were live camels carrying the magi down the center aisle of the church, angels suspended by a state-of-the-art rigging system zooming over the heads of the audience, and glittering costumes.  It was very professional, very colorful, and very spectacular — unmistakably grand. The Glory of Christmas, it was called.

And then I look at this coming Sunday's reading from Micah.  The expectation that the one coming to rule Israel will be "great to the ends of the earth" is certainly grand, but the primary images in the passage are not what I'd call Hollywood special-effect moments.  A woman in labor.  A shepherd feeding a flock.  It's rather mundane, really.  But the inbreaking of the kingdom we anticipate is like that.  It's not a special effects moment, any more than the planting of a mustard seed is a special effects moment.  But Micah presents this moment of childbearing and shepherding as the downfall of the mighty kingdom of Assyria.

That kind of thing — the inbreaking of the kingdom amongst and through the mundane — is the real glory of Christmas, I think.  If God's kingdom arrived with fireworks, we wouldn't need to look or listen for it; we could just wander outside once we heard the booming.  But it isn't like that.  Being present in the darkness of Advent sharpens our sight and trains our ears to look and listen for a single star and the cry of a child.  Turn up the stereo or point your telescope ten more degrees to the right and you could miss it.  But that moment, that quiet and not particularly spectacular moment, is the advent of a world of possibility.  Keep watch!  Listen up!  And pay attention to every moment.  The Christ is coming!

December 15, 2003 in Advent, Micah, Prophets, Year C | Permalink

Comments

The comments to this entry are closed.