An Advent Reflection
The theme of the first week of Advent in our parish is “The Promise of Peace” from last Sunday’s readings. Today’s advent verse is from Isaiah 54:
For the mountains may depart
and the hills be removed,
but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,
and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,
says the Lord, who has compassion on you. —Isaiah 54.10
The hills above my hometown look the same as they always have. They look the same as they did when my mother was born here. And they will look the same when my grandchildren’s grandchildren gaze upon them. We may know that in geologic time mountains come and go, but these coastal mountains have been the same since humans crossed the Bering Straight and came down the coast. We read that a glacier carved Yosemite Valley, but it was long before humans walked the earth. To us, standing in awe on the valley floor, it is as close as we get to timeless. So the prophet is justified in declaring that if the impossible were to happen – that the hills should vanish – it is even more impossible for God’s faithfulness to disappear.
God has made a promise, the eternal one an eternal promise. A covenant of peace. He will love us. He will be faithful to us. No matter what. He will not turn away from us but will bring us and all creation into his peace.
Such a promise doesn’t give us license to pillage and plunder. Indeed, it should make us stop our pillaging, even as the sight of the soaring granite cliffs of Yosemite fill us with awe and makes us still. Standing in that valley, or looking over it from the heights, the thought of desecrating it with so much as a gum wrapper seems abhorrent. So, too, ought this promise of God’s faithfulness summon us into the living of God’s peace.