Written by Steven Liechty
"A green Shoot will sprout from Jesse's stump, from his roots a budding branch . . . . He'll judge the needy by what is right, render decisions on earth's poor with justice . . . . Each morning he'll pull on sturdy work clothes and boots, and build righteousness and faithfulness in the land." - Isaiah 11:1-5
Advent is a time to repent. Sometimes we forget that and leave all the heavy lifting to that other season of repentance in the church year—Lent. But really, Advent and Lent are both times to examine our lives and the world and ask God for forgiveness. These are the seasons for the prophets to call us on our crazy ways.
Right now there are so many people in our economy who are unemployed, underemployed, or underpaid. For these people, the season leading up to Christmas is a tough time of year. All the pressures to buy and consume become painful. The injustices of our economy hit hard.
In the U.S., 11 million people are out of work. The middle class is shrinking. Poverty is escalating. The chasm between the very wealthy and the rest of us is widening.
Should we just "get in the Christmas spirit" and put those unpleasant things out of our minds? Absolutely not. They belong in this Advent season along with Isaiah's prediction of a savior who would wear work boots, care about the poor and build righteousness in the land.
This Advent, let's remember that the beautiful baby we wait for went on to become a grownup in work boots, who stood in the tradition of the prophets who cried out against the gap between the rich and the poor and told us that we could do better. I doubt our savior in work boots is very impressed with the economic order these days, and for that we should repent.
Repentance. It's not just for Lent anymore.
Almighty God, give bread to those who have none, and a hunger and thirst for justice to those who have plenty. Amen.
Lillian Daniel, author of When "Spiritual But Not Religious" is Not Enough, has a chapter in the new anthology, What My Mother Gave Me: Thirty-one Women on the Gifts That Mattered Most. Follow her on twitter @lillianfdaniel.