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Advent Meditations: Sunday, December 9By Steven Bishop
Psalm 148–150, 114, 115 • Isaiah 5:1–7 • Luke 7:28–35
What creates your expectations? Two of today’s readings speak to me of expectation. In Isaiah, a vinedresser methodically prepares an environment for the perfect growing of grapes. Verse 2 carefully provides the step-by-step pains taken to ensure a rich harvest. But the expectation is frustrated and all the preparation pointless when, in the end, the grapes are no good. The vinedresser is further upended when the metaphor is brought to its intended target, the people of Judah, and we hear that the justice God expected of them has become injustice: rather than equity in the land, there is iniquity. In spite of everything being carefully prepared and all the conditions being fixed for a positive outcome, the unexpected happens.
The Gospel of Luke presents another failure of expectations. When hearing a joyful tune played in the streets, people usually dance. And when laments echo through the streets, tears usually flow. But not in this case. When John denies himself nourishment, he is said to have a demon. And when Jesus celebrates life, he is said to be a glutton and a drunk. But what did the people expect?
God is capable of frustrating expectations through the free exercise of grace, love, and compassion. God is capable of turning away from “what ought to be” and doing a new thing.
What unexpected turn do you face this season?
Holy God, awaken in us a love for your unexpected presence in our lives today. Amen.
Dr. Steven Bishop
Associate Professor of Old Testament
Seminary of the Southwest
Listen to Steven read his meditation and prayer:
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