Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.”
– John Muir
A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. 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; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins. The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
- Isaiah 11.1-9
The passage from Isaiah 11 cited above paints in poetic strokes an ideal of peace that inspires hope, to be sure, but its overstated imagery also underscores how far removed we are from such peace, and that between us lies wilderness. Perhaps this is why humankind has long recognized that the spiritual life is a journey, a pilgrimage from darkness to light, bondage to freedom, wilderness wandering to homecoming, chaos to peace. This journey is long, difficult, and at times can be treacherous.
Even the journey to Bethlehem on which we embark this time each year comes with no guarantee of completion. As I mentioned in my sermon last week, there are many sure signs that Christmas is on its way, but no sure signs of its arrival, save open and humble hearts, prepared to receive the birth of the Christ child. As we gather in worship this Sunday, the OPCC Kids will continue to explore this theme. They will proclaim the good news through a Christmas drama entitled A Christmas Journey. This play is subtle and insightful, and will provoke reflection on the meaning and spirit of Christmas. It explores, for example, the many subtle and seemingly innocent temptations that can strip Christmas of its awe and wonder, and turn a holy day into just another holiday characterized by that well known spirit of gimme gimme gimme. Join us as our kids lead us on the next stage of our journey toward Bethlehem where we will kneel in humility and awe before a child and know something of the peace that is coming into our world.