Sing This Song
When I offered to write a reflection on an Advent reading, I was hoping for some cozy scripture passages, ones that would recall or evoke memories of warm family gatherings, of baking cookies, of gentle preparations for Christmas. The readings for the first Thursday of Advent were anything but cozy. They seemed so – stern. A stern Isaiah and a stern God. In my first read-through, I pictured an Old Testament God, even in the Gospel – a God laying down the law. A God saying not EVERYONE will enter heaven. And a God warning of dire consequences if you build your house on sand.
I dutifully annotated the readings. I underlined words and phrases. I could not come up with anything to write, though. I had to walk away from the readings. I gained a new appreciation and understanding of students when they write “IDK” in response to a reflection question.
After a long while avoiding the readings from Isaiah and the Psalms, I looked at the words and phrases I had put rectangles around:
sing this song
gates of justice
Looking at the words, I saw a kind of found poem. “Sing this song” became the title of the poem and the listed words what God promises us if we take refuge in God, the eternal rock, rather than the transitory.
In the reading from Matthew, I noticed I had circled these verbs: “listens” and “acts.” In order to reap the blessings Jesus offers, we can’t be passive. We have to listen; moreover, we have to act. We can’t just nod our heads in agreement with Jesus’ teachings about justice. We have to live them out. And if we do, we will have created a solid foundation for our lives and an entrance ticket to the Kingdom of Heaven.
The readings for today are anything but cozy. They do provide a promise. And some comfort. If you build your house on rock, it will withstand the rain and the floods.
Susan Leaverton is a member of the English Department at Seattle Prep. She is mother to Molly ‘04, Julia ‘06, and Jack ’13 and grandparent to Henry (3) and Clara (11 months).