The alligator shall live with the lamb. –Isaiah 11:6 (Yes, I changed “wolf” to “alligator”)
When all that remains is a dead stump, God brings life. When we feel like Norm on “Cheers” when he says, “It’s a dog-eat-dog world and I’m wearing Milk Bone underwear,” there’s still hope. When it seems we’re surrounded by alligators – dysfunctional megalomaniacs, we are reminded that God is still there and still in charge. When we’ve become cynical about the giddy sentimental trappings of our culture’s consumerism, God gives us this miraculous audacious picture in Isaiah.
It’s easy to roll our eyes in incredulity as we read through the unlikely pairings of predator and prey. We tend to not be very patient people these days. We want what we want and we want it now. This vision seems so outrageous because all evidence and logic around us seems to be telling us that this is ridiculous and unreasonable. We may have occasional moments when our hearts are “strangely warmed,” but for the most part we remain unconvinced. There seems to be no light at the end of this tunnel.
We live about a 5 minute walk from a place that they call “Christmasland” in Dakota City. It’s a Christmas light spectacle put together annually by an octogenarian. It is really something to behold, but you obviously need to see it when it’s dark. It’s the contrast between the lights and dark surroundings that make it something to see. I think it’s important not to jump to the life and hope and light of this passage too quickly.
In our instant gratification society it’s hard to see the darkness, the wilderness, the place we don’t want to be as a place we need to dwell for a while. We want that growing branch now. We want peace on earth, good will towards people right now. We tend to agree with the song that says, “We need a little Christmas, right this very minute…”
But maybe there’s something holy about staring at the stump, walking around in the darkness, living in a place (the Church) where there are still predators stalking prey. Maybe there’s something important about praying and experiencing the silence of God. These are dark days and getting darker. Don’t rush to turn the lights on too quickly. It's a great Advent blessing when nothing is changed, yet everything is different.
God who is present on the mountains and the deep dark sea, we thank you for loving us even when we are deep and dark. Bless this time and make it holy. Amen.
Rev. Dan Kahl
Grace Lutheran, Ft. Dodge