Martin B. Copenhaver
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners. - Isaiah 61:1
This passage is a reminder of who it is we await in this season. During Advent we tend to focus our anticipation on the sweet baby Jesus because, as every parent knows, we can see in an infant almost anything we want to see. And, besides, everyone loves a baby. This passage, however, reminds us of the mission of God's anointed one, the Messiah. When we read this passage during Advent it is a reminder that the baby grew up. He taught, he challenged, he provoked, he healed, he liberated.
We are never very good at letting babies grow up to the point that they have their own ideas and confront us with their own lives. A baby tends to turn things upside down and can be a bit of a challenge to have around. In the case of the baby Jesus, that is nothing compared to the ways in which the adult Jesus can disrupt and challenge us. Is it any wonder, then, that when Jesus read this passage at his home synagogue in Nazareth and said that the prophet was talking about him, the people who had known him since he was a baby chased him out of town?
O God, as I anticipate the birth of the babe in Bethlehem never let me forget that he grew up. In this season may I be better prepared to follow him as teacher, Savior and Lord. Amen.
Martin B. Copenhaver is Senior Pastor of Village Church, United Church of Christ, in Wellesley, Massachusetts. A new edition of his book, Living Faith While Holding Doubts has just been published by Pilgrim Press.