Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test. 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.”
It was an old world, a weary world. It was a world of nightmares and yet a world in which a dream had not died. A dream of love and peace, a hope for justice and kindness.
It was a world that had almost forgotten to expect anything or anyone new. It was a world governed by the ambition of an empire, the craven patterns of living in a colony of this empire.
And so we, like they so many years ago, follow the predictable paths of apparently normal lives. We expect things might get a little worse and sometimes a little better. The numbness of the normal.
And yet among us there are those who bear the dream of something new, of the possibility of someone new. They bear the memory and hope of birth.
The gospel stories of the birth of Jesus take shape within the suffering of centuries, they are written on the winds of memory. They are stories about the small yet persistent possibility of something or someone new. They are the dangerous memories of birth and rebirth.
The dream of another way of being is as small and fragile as a baby. The child struggles to be born, the parents of this small hope struggle to bring it into the world. A few, those who are poor and who have nothing left but hope, recognize hope when they see it. Then as now, those who no longer expect anything from the empire are able to recognize hope – and love – when they see it.
This is a time to welcome the possibility of newness in our lives and in our world. It is a season to welcome the newcomers, whether they be babies or refugees, who arrive in our old world. They burst upon our lives as the promise of another way of being.
Let us pray
O Jesus may we draw near to you in this Advent time so we can learn how to hope and to love in small and splendid ways, how to believe that something new is coming to birth in our lives and in our world. Amen.
DR. MARY JO LEDDY is a writer, speaker, theologian and social activist and is widely recognized for her work with refugees at Toronto’s Romero House. She is the author of At the Border Called Hope: Where Refugees are Neighbours, Our Friendly Local Terrorist and The Other Face of God: When the Stranger Calls Us Home. In 1996 she received the Order of Canada.