Advent Reflections 2023: Day 1

1 December   Isaiah 11:1-9

From the stump of Jesse, the father of King David, will come one who is filled with the spirit of the Lord: the spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge and fear of the Lord. So far, so good. But he won’t judge by what he sees or by what he hears? That is an extraordinary statement –because all of us, as human beings, do just that. Many of us navigate our world and our lives by sight and sound, albeit perhaps with the aid of glasses and hearing aids.

Our dependence on our senses is a gift that brings great joy, but it also makes us vulnerable. We can be swayed by what we see and hear – and a global advertising industry, valued at $615 billion in 2022, relies on just that. We can be swayed by the information we see and hear in the press, on the radio or through social media without reflecting on the veracity or the bias of those trying to persuade us of their agenda.

We should not always judge by what we see and hear. We need to use our senses as God-given gifts, but to do so with the aid of the spirit of wisdom and understanding which is itself the gift of the one whose coming was foreseen in this passage. The one who judges the poor with righteousness and the meek with equity, values which should form the bedrock of our lives and shape our judgements.

So, what stuff do we need to get rid of at the beginning of Advent? Almost certainly, for all of us, lots of material ‘stuff’. But perhaps just as importantly, our lazy habits and assumptions that fail to look at the world and listen to our communities with the eyes and ears of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge and, above all, fear of God.

Amanda Boon

Lord, on this first day of Advent, as we wait to celebrate the birth of the one who calls us to follow him, we pray that we may let go of the stuff that hinders us from working with him for the coming of his kingdom: the time when ‘the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea’. Amen.