The promise of the Spirit
An Advent Reflection
The theme of the second week of Advent in our parish is “The Promise of the Spirit” from last Sunday’s readings. Among the readings from Sunday were these verses: a song of salvation from the prophet Isaiah and the witness of John the Baptist in Matthew.
They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea. —Isaiah 11:9
“He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” —Matthew 3:11
You forget how vast is the sea until you stand again on the shore and look out over that endless expanse. Yet even then we don’t really comprehend the majesty that is before us.
I knew the beach as a child. I knew the hot sand between the parking lot and the water’s edge. I knew the right distance from that water’s edge to start your sand castle. I knew the little river that cut an ever changing path through the sand to the sea. I knew the seaweed and seagulls and sun and sunburn. I knew the waves and used to ride them on my little inflatable raft. But the sea I didn’t know; the vastness of the sea I couldn’t begin to comprehend.
“The earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.”
The prophet is not talking about book knowledge. The prophet is talking about a world where we finally “get it”, where we finally get the nature of the power at the heart of the universe, where we finally understand what it means that the world was born in love and is destined for love, where we finally understand the majesty of that love, where we finally understand what it means to live that love – where we all, all of us, breathe with the breath of God.
Advent is a season of hope. But far more, it is a season of an overwhelming vision of a world restored to perfect harmony, a season that turns us towards of peace, that turns us towards the Spirit, that turns us towards the child who is heaven come down.