On the last weekend in September, I walked into a department store and was blinded by the sparkle of Christmas lights, ornaments and lawn Santas. Apparently in the stores, the longer the waiting period the better: it means more sales, increased profits and hopefully more satisfied investors. The market can always come up with another sales gimmick to entice us into the Christmas spirit. In the church, however, we are more restless, more eager to get through the waiting period. We long for the advent of Christ.
The Advent prophet, Isaiah, expresses the frustration that many of his fellow believers feel after years in exile. They are longing for God to reenter their lives in tangible, this-worldly ways. It’s been a long time since God sent pillars of cloud by day and fire by night. It’s been a long time since God rained manna from heaven or sent plagues upon Israel’s enemies. It seems to these Jewish refugees that God is no longer minding the store.