The Advent texts of the various reading cycles guide us in expectation, and in feeling the strain of reality and what we long for in life and faith. I've always been drawn to the "Suffering Servant" songs/poems and the powerful imagery. Of course, the readings remind me of the hoped for Messiah and define for me who Jesus is as I lean toward Christmas. Over the years I also learned that a Hebrew reader may think in terms of the people Israel as the Suffering Servant. That has always been very helpful to me as I read the Old Testament/Hebrew scriptures, and as I grapple with the promise and hope found in the New Testament. When I combine these two interpretations- one with focus on Messiah and the other upon the people of faith- I am personally forced to consider what it means for the Church, the Body of Christ today, to be the Suffering Servant in our communities and in our world. This also helps me to avoid that overly sentimental, but spiritually lacking, repetition of Advent and Christmas that is either too distant and historic or too individualistic, self absorbed, and removed from the realities of life today.
How is your Advent leaning into that intersection of the harsh realities of life and the incarnation of God? How is your celebration of Christmas more than a consumerist orgy or personal/family extravaganza lacking the larger social connections which might grow your holiness as you best express love of God and love of neighbor? How are you, and your church, following in the way of Christ and the model of a Suffering Servant?
Read and struggle with me in living out the answers.
The First Song: The Servant of the Lord