Eyes for Emmanuel: Seeing Advent Through the Incarnation

by Pastor Doug Kelly (from the November/December 2019 Briefs)

He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth.      -Isaiah 11:3-4    

I finally got to my optometrist at the end of the summer.   Sure enough, I needed a new prescription for my glasses.  Not a huge change, but enough for a new set of lenses.  Advent is Bethany’s time for eye check up.

Last May, Amy Eyler, our Worship Elder, hosted a gathering of some elders and staff where we prayed through and reflected on some of the upcoming Advent lectionary scripture passages.  We shared our hopes for Advent and looked for God to show up in new ways.  A team was assigned to identify a theme for Advent from these passages and we have arrived at “Eyes for Emmanuel: Seeing Advent through the Incarnation?”

Advent is the season of staying awake for God’s incarnation into our world.  We await not only the baby Jesus, but King Jesus who will reign with justice and love.  Isaiah says that this shoot from Jesse’s stump will not judge by appearances, but by righteousness and “equity for the meek of the earth.”

How can we discern God’s movement beyond appearances?  Could our inability to see God move be because our eyes are at fault?   

My senior high school year on the baseball team at Oceanside High was a disaster.  Always known as a glove at shortstop, I was suddenly fumbling every short hop grounder. My batting average plummeted.  My technique was fine; the coach liked my swing and my footwork around second base was tops.  The problem didn’t become clear until the next fall at college when I found 60 minutes of reading painfully exhausting.  A-ha! I couldn’t play shortstop, couldn’t  hit because I could not see the baseball; my eyes were at fault.  

Will you see Jesus on the move this Advent?  Here are a few thoughts on how we can join in on this advent theme:

Intentionality/practices– Where will we focus our gaze?    How can we see beyond our own limited perspective/our own eyes?  What intentional practices can we have that keep us centered on Christ?  (Two suggested practices: make a commitment to be in worship every Sunday of Advent; practice an Advent candle ritual at home, connecting corporate and family worship.)

Relationships – who can we be in relationship with to expand our current perspectives and sense of understanding?

Hope/wonder – how can we be a creative people to foster our sense of hope and wonder.

Having Eyes for Emmanuel means allowing the incarnate Jesus to not simply enter your heart but to transform your eyes.

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