Scripture Readings for December 4, 2017
We have just begun Advent so when I heard the last line from Isaiah, “let us walk in the light of the Lord,” I thought it said exactly what we need right now. The earlier part of Isaiah says what walking in the light of the Lord is all about: putting aside hostilities, getting along with everyone and doing what God says is the right thing. It is behavior attuned to the divine that yields the peace of the Lord and builds a City of God.
The most concrete example in today’s readings is the behavior of the centurion. This man is a Roman army officer, he’s in charge of 100 men. In this time and place he could have anything he wants. He has real power over not just his soldiers but could force his will on any of the locals he chose. Yet he comes to Jesus not only respectfully but humbly. He is also apparently aware of the fact that if a Jew entered a Gentile house they were considered ritually unclean.
The centurion asks as one without power or privilege. However, he asks confidently believing that Jesus doesn’t even have to enter his house to do what he wants. This is how the centurion walks in the light of the Lord. He asks out of his concern for his servant who is paralyzed and suffering at home. He asks with no other qualifications. I think that is often hard to do, to come before God, leaving status, privilege, and one’s attitude behind. To ask out of our concern alone trusting that God can accomplish what is needed.
Our Psalm today is all about having peace and prosperity. Living in God’s city. Jerusalem is meant to be the image of what we would call heaven. I want to suggest that heaven shouldn’t just be an image we have of our life after death. But rather we must consider that Jesus and Scripture are trying to tell us something about what God wants for us here and now. Especially if you consider that most of what makes up our peace and prosperity comes from within.
The Psalm is very explicit about this when it says, ‘Peace be within you.” I think that the image of Jerusalem may well be the ideal of how changing our attitudes could change who we are and how we deal with the world and all the everyday issues that aren’t very peaceful. What if we approached life as humbly as the centurion? What if we were willing to hear what God is saying to us and were willing to accept the paths God lays out before us?
This is one of the first days of Advent, a time in which we wait for the light of Christ to be born into the world. Perhaps it’s time to consider that the birth this year could well be within us. We too can walk in the light of God and experience a birth that comes about when we, like the centurion, humbly ask for healing from whatever suffering has harmed part of our lives. Maybe then it will be easier to see and hear what God is doing for us. “Let us walk in the Light of the Lord.”