This article was originally published by The Mennonite

Advent Day eight: For such a One I’ve waited all my life


Marlene Kropf lives with her husband Stanley in Port Townsend, Washington.  They are members of Portland Mennonite Church (Oregon).  Marlene is a former Minister of Worship and Spirituality with Mennonite Church USA and is Professor Emerita at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (Elkhart, Indiana).  In retirement she continues to lead retreats, offer spiritual direction, and guide Celtic pilgrimages.  Her most recent book is Faith Travels:  Trusting God in Life’s Transitions, published in 2016 by MennoMedia. 

Mennonites don’t normally “talk politics” on Sunday morning. But perhaps today, on the second Sunday of Advent, we should.

Our texts for the day describe the desired characteristics of good rulers. The prophet Isaiah (11:1-10) offers a dream-like vision of a competent, just, wise, and compassionate ruler who delights in God and works tirelessly on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised. Perhaps what is most striking about this ruler is his or her integrity – a complete freedom from selfish interests or personal gain.

With such a leader, a peaceable kingdom comes to be: wild and domestic animals live harmoniously with each other, and children are utterly safe in their presence. No one hurts or destroys. God’s ways prevail.

Psalm 72, which responds to Isaiah’s vision, is a prayer for just such a ruler. God’s people yearn for a righteous leader because they recognize that the health of their land depends upon fairness and prosperity for all. The leader they desire embraces a generous justice, like gentle showers that fall upon new-mown grass.

The Old Testament readings remind me of the mother of Amahl in Menotti’s opera, “Amahl and the Night Visitors.” When three weary strangers ask to rest and warm themselves at her fire, she welcomes them, even though she has nothing but a straw mat to offer. She is intrigued by their tale of a child to whom they are guided by a star. Later that night, while the travelers sleep, she attempts to steal some of their gold. When she is caught, one of her guests protests:

Oh, woman, you may keep the gold. 

              The Child we seek doesn’t need our gold. 

              On love, on love alone he will build his kingdom. 

              His pierced hand will hold no scepter. 

              His haloed head will wear no crown. 

              His might will not be built on your toil… 

              He will bring us new life…

As she listens, Amahl’s mother is overwhelmed by the luminous vision of such a just and compassionate ruler. She hands back the gold and proclaims,

For such a King I’ve waited all my life. 

Haven’t we all?

This is the profound confession we are invited to make throughout Advent:

For such a One we’ve waited all our lives.

During the dark days and nights of Advent, we open our hearts to our deepest longings: we want everyone to be free, to be safe, to be welcome at the table and to have enough to share. Even though our earthly rulers regularly and thoroughly disappoint us, we can’t forget Isaiah’s dream-like vision of a world where justice and compassion are everyday virtues, lived not only by rulers but by everyone, great or small.

The path to such a realm is rigorous, according to John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1-12). We must confess our sins of self-centeredness, thoughtlessness and greed. We must do the laborious work of repentance – which is always active: opening our eyes to injustice; opening our hands in generosity; opening our doors in welcome to whoever God sends our way – Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, atheist, gay, lesbian, straight, wealthy, poor, illiterate, over-educated, lower class, upper class, Republican, Democrat, and red, brown, yellow, black or white. “Welcome them all,” says the epistle reading (Romans 15:4-13).

And when we do, the realm of God will become visible before our eyes.

Today’s scriptures do not point toward some other world, some far-off heavenly realm.  Rather, they point toward the very world we live in – the world of commerce, education, parenting and politics. This is the very world into which Jesus was born and into which he is born again and again whenever justice and righteousness prevail.

Let’s not only talk politics on the second Sunday of Advent. Let’s become activists, living the vision of a transformed world where lions, lambs, wolves, and children live in harmony, where no one is ever hurt or destroyed, and where righteousness flourishes and peace abounds.


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