And so we begin our journey….
This morning we (at the CoOp) are using Daniel 3: 1, 8-30. It is a long scripture. If you want to read the whole scripture please do but I am going to highlight just a portion….
23 But the three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell down, bound, into the furnace of blazing fire. 24Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up quickly. He said to his counselors, “Was it not three men that we threw bound into the fire?” They answered the king, “True, O king.” 25 He replied, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the middle of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the fourth has the appearance of a god.” 26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the door of the furnace of blazing fire and said, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!” So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. 27 And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men; the hair of their heads was not singed, their tunics were not harmed, and not even the smell of fire came from them. 28 Nebuchadnezzar said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants who trusted in him. They disobeyed the king’s command and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. 29 Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that utters blasphemy against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins; for there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.” 30 Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.
And you may be thinking…how in the world does this connect to Advent? The CoOp is using Daniel because it is part of the Narrative lectionary and this scripture has place in the narrative. But a few things strike me as we begin our waiting period during the season of Advent.
This is a season that holds hope….
When it looks bleak in the midst of exile, as in the narrative of Daniel, God keeps giving us these characters that are full of hope in the midst of fiery times. Under this crazy king, the people of Israel wait for the coming of God. They feel exile all around and yet here are these three simple men who stand up to the crazy king for God. There is hope in that waiting.
This is a season of journeying….
Because of my obsessing over the Camino (another story for another day) I like to thinking of these journeys as their own little pilgrimages. We don’t really have to go anywhere but we do have to walk alongside other people journeying. We have to looking into ourselves to take the steps. This whole season is a journey and God walks alongside us much like God shows up in Daniel. Notice God does create magic before the men go into the fire. Only when they walk into the fire does God show up and walk alongside them. Lean into the journey so God can show up.
This is a season of big questions…
Who should we follow? What are we waiting for? Where is God leading us? Will God show up? True as is now it was true then.
Finally, we share this story with so many including Jesus…
By knowing this narrative, the Advent season makes much more sense when we talking about waiting for Jesus, the Messiah. By wading into exile with the old Testament heroes we know what the people of Israel are working through as they wait. I think this only creates opportunity to be more in tune with a rich heritage.
Blessings on your journey this season!