unlearning our understanding

Do you see what I see? Unlikely. Scientists, prophets, and artists might all agree. What we believe shapes what we observe. We see what we expect. So how can we prepare our eyes to recognize a new reality?

I’ve been taking to heart the Advent encouragement to open my eyes, to see differently. (If you missed Kevin’s teaching and images, follow the link at the end.) Changing my routine, lifting my head, walking a new direction. Looking for the red-tailed hawk, admiring the cardinals and the blue jay, noticing the dog’s simple joy at discovering new smells.

It is easy to get discouraged. Lack of light and gray days affect my mood. I catch up on the bad news in the world; it goes on and on.

There is a connection between seeing and understanding that seems elusive today. Isaiah 11 invites us to envision a different world, an end to violence and suffering. Where knowledge of the Lord fills the earth, contradicting our basic understanding of order. There are still wolves and lambs, leopards and goats, lions and calves, snakes and toddlers- but they are no longer enemies. Ecological diversity, but an entirely different food chain.

I don’t see it. Or understand it. When I flip ahead to Luke, my eyes fall on the passage where Jesus weeps over Jerusalem. That, I get. But it isn’t today’s reading. I try to picture Jesus being happy, but it is hard to imagine.

At that very moment, Jesus overflowed with joy from the Holy Spirit and said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you’ve hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and shown them to babies. Indeed, Father, this brings you happiness.” Luke 10:21 (CEB)

A joyful Jesus. A happy God. Clearly seeing differently than I see, and sharing their understanding of each other and of the world with babies, who don’t have to unlearn what they thought they knew. I am not feeling particularly wise and intelligent today, more like my knowledge of the world gets in the way of the vision.

I go back to Isaiah. To the phrases that caught my attention. What proceeds from the mouth of the anointed, from the breath of his lips, eliminates wickedness. What are the words that put an end to violence? We invite the Spirit to also rest upon us:

a spirit of wisdom and understanding,
a spirit of planning and strength,
a spirit of knowledge and…
delight in fearing the Lord.
 Is. 11:2-3 (CEB)

I am encouraged to see the word “planning” there. Thank you, Common English Bible. Planning doesn’t feel very spiritual. But I need the vision to form a plan. And I keep praying for more of the Spirit. Advent flows into Christmas flows into a January of focusing on the Beloved Community. Isaiah and Dr. King. Both looking to the Messiah to show the way.

A star, a star, dancing in the night…
Pray for peace, people everywhere!
The Child, the Child, sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light


Bulletin: 12/2
Order of Service: 12/2
Sermon: Preparing for Love’s Arrival -Numbers 27:17a

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