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An Advent Reflection from our Dean

Author: Rev. David Kersten
Seminary Dean and Vice President of Church Relations

As I write this reflection we have moved fully into the Advent season. One of my favorite Advent texts is Isaiah 2:1-5. I think I am drawn to it because of its sense of urgency and the collapsing of time. Isaiah cries out, “In the last days…” and then goes on to outline the meaning of the last days for Israel and Judah and as we read this text now the last days for us, certainly the last days of the semester. But beyond the academic calendar, there also seems to be a sense of last days for the church, for denominations, for institutions; massive changes appear to be on the way. In light of all this, what are we to do, how are we to live?

Isaiah has some help for us. In the last days, there will be a deep and abiding spiritual hunger. Many people will come and say, “let us go up to the mountain of the Lord.” We must attend to the spiritual hunger in our own lives and in the world around us. Isaiah says that in the last days the word will go out, there will be an ending of our ways and God will teach us his ways. Think of that, in the last days, there might be great need for people who have given themselves to the study of scripture and to the ways of God in this world.

I trust in this Advent season there will be time to hear the scriptures, particularly as they are paired with musical texts, and you will be surrounded by the word of God given in beauty and in truth. Finally, Isaiah says, “In the last days there is a calling of light. Come O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord.” As we seek to walk in the light of this season we might have to first lament the darkness, the darkness of hunger, the darkness of apathy, the darkness of political unrest, the darkness of immigration injustice, the darkness of global oppression of women and girls. The list is long but there is a deep and abiding promise that with the coming of the Messiah light has entered the world and the darkness has not overcome it. We trust this, we believe in it. I will let Madeleine L’Engle have the last word in her poem. 

The Risk of birth

This is no time for a child to be born.
With the earth betrayed by war and hate
And a nova lighting the sky to warn
That time runs out and the sun burns late.

That was no time for a child to be born.
In a land in the crushing grip of Rome;
Honour and truth were trampled by scorn –
Yet here did the Saviour make his home.

When is the time for love to be born?
The inn is full on the planet earth,
And by greed and pride the sky is torn –
Yet Love still takes the risk of birth