Rev. Troy Medlin
Then Isaiah said: “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted. (Isaiah 7: 10-16)
What is the sign that God will give? We would never dream it up, that is for sure. A child. This is the sign. A newborn baby born in a manger to an unwed mother. Vulnerable. Dependent on others. Someone without rank or status. Small. Not mighty. A child. This is the sign that God will give us. As preacher Barbara Lundblad points out, “God’s sign of a child surprised a king and an unwed father named Joseph.” If we are honest, it continues to surprise us. I mean, the God of all creation can do better than that, right? We would be more accustomed to a sign of power or prestige. A sign worth its salt. A sign that is worthy of the God of all that is. Still, we are left with this sign: a child. The shock of it all should not cease to surprise us day after day and year after year.
The surprises continue to unfold. This is not just any child, and this is not just any sign. This is God come in the flesh. As Isaiah says, Immanuel. It is not that this is God’s sign, God and the sign are one. This child. This one. He is the God of all that is. If this is how God has revealed Godself to us, then our whole frame of reference for God is upside down. We don’t look up. We look down. Towards a child. This advent as we search for God’s in-breaking let’s continue to look down. Towards the vulnerable, small, dependent, those without rank or status. We just might find that God has already been dwelling there. We just might find a sign of God’s work in the world. And, when we find a sign let’s stay awhile. Where do you see a sign?
Immanuel, you came to dwell with us as a little child. The ultimate sign of your reign. May we search out where you are found now. In wheat, wine, water, word, and stranger. Among the vulnerable. And marvel at your work until you come again. Amen.