Advent No. 1

Advent has begun. Usually we light our advent candles on Sunday but I’m posting Monday because we also have four Mondays too. This advent series is one of several I wrote myself for my dad’s church. This one is my favorite. I hope you’ll read them!

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:14

“Shear-Jashub, help me find some stones and sticks for the fire.” I ask my son, taking the sack from my back and putting it on the ground. Together we make a small circle of rocks not far from the road and light the bundle of sticks aflame inside it. Pouring the last of our water in a shallow bowl, we wash the dust of the day from our feet before we sit to eat. The bread and cheese are a welcome meal after a long day of walking. I can tell that Shear-Jashub is tired but he doesn’t complain as other young boys might.

“Abba, where are we going?” he asks me, his mouth full of his mother’s crusty bread. “We are going to meet King Ahaz, my son.” I answer him. He chews his bread a moment before asking “Abba, are you afraid to meet the king?” I smile and shake my head. “No, my son. Our God goes before us and He has told me what to say.” Shear-Jashub smiles back. “He must love you very much doesn’t He abba?” Such a question makes me chuckle. Just like Shear-Jashub to ask again the questions I’ve been answering his whole seven years of life. “Yes, my son. And He loves you very much too. Now go to sleep. Tomorrow will be a big day.”

King Ahaz comes out of his tent to greet us. “Shalom Isaiah! I am so relieved that you are finally here.” I stop and bow to the young king as he approaches. Shear-Jashub mimics me. Only twenty years old, I can already see the strain and anxiety on King Ahaz’s face and I feel so privileged to relay God’s message to him. He beckons us to follow him, past his guards and through the tent flaps into the cool shade. Together we sit on elaborately woven carpets, Shear-Jashub quietly taking in the kingly splendor around us. “Well, what have you to tell me?” King Ahaz asks, his forehead creased, his eyes earnest. I smile at him and begin. “This is what the Lord says. Be careful, be quiet, do not fear…” Words of comfort, encouragement, hope and prophecy flow past my lips and I watch the king’s tension ease with each syllable. I am often shaken by how God’s words can have such a physical effect, both positively and negatively depending on the message. They are powerful words, more powerful than kings or wars.

Shear-Jashub is happier on the way home. He skips along the road a little ahead of me, singing praise at the top of his lungs. While my soul sings loud with him, my lips can’t quite join in. I am silenced by the words of the Lord that came from my mouth only a little while ago. A virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call His name Immanuel. A savior for our people. A hope for us all. It is miraculous! Will he come soon? In my lifetime or my son’s or maybe his son’s? Oh Lord, come quickly!

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