This is the Second Sunday of Advent. The first candle stands for hope. The second for faith. It may be hard to believe but—Messiah is coming (back) to save us. Or so we’re told. Have faith.
Many Jews put it differently. Messiah has not and is not coming. A Messianic Age might come. But don’t count on that either, they say. Better to plant a tree than hold your breath.
So you can either wait for Messiah or work toward the Messianic Age. Or both. Or neither.
According to the prophecy, the Messiah is something to long for because, well, for starters, the wicked will be annihilated—he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked (Isaiah 11)—leaving righteous people like you and me alive to enjoy a peaceful world.
The lion and lamb will lie down together. Presumably, side by side—not one inside the other. But then, I don’t expect vegan lions on this planet anytime soon. And last time I tuned in, the wicked were kicking the righteous silly.
Still, the prophet urges us to believe the improbable. And a certain poet urges us to imagine a new world.
Imagine no religion. Imagine there’s no countries. Imagine all the people sharing all the world. It’s easy if you try. Or, so he says.
Well, we can try. But imagining won’t make it so. Religious people are everywhere. Yes, it might be easier if they weren’t. But they are. We must learn to get along.
We can imagine no countries. But that won’t make it so. Countries, nations, tribes, and parties are everywhere. We must learn to get along.
We can imagine no possessions, no greed, no hunger. And we can imagine the world as one. But that won’t make it so. The world is not as one. In many places, hunger kills. And in most places, greed rules. War is still an answer.
Still, we can dream. We can believe in the peaceable kingdom. We can imagine the world as one. And we can imagine getting along.
Imagination is good. But it’s not good enough.
Today is the Second Sunday of Advent. Light two candles. Take a deep breath. Then work on getting along with somebody.