on Readings for Advent 3, Year A
by the Rev. Elaine Barber
Land Borrowing the Eyes of God
Rose Sunday in Advent December 12, 2010
How lucky I was to have relatives
who worked the land as farmers in the rich soil of the Jordan
area south of the Twin Cities. The acreage near our family farm
had rolling fields with small streams running through the corn
and wheat fields, which were tributaries of the Sand Creek,
which eventually spilled into the Minnesota River. The family
members who worked those fields could have been the role models
of the James Epistle reading for today. They were the industrious
farmers who waited for their precious crops to appear each spring.
They were patient and hopefully that the harvest season would
bring a bountiful crop to store in the fall of the year. They
lived the saying that Hope Springs Eternal for those who wait
on the Lord. God would provide ---especially if they did their
part in the work needed to produce the crops!
But they were also blessed with the right environment for the
harvest to be plentiful. They were not attempting to bring the
crops out of a barren, sterile land. Growing crops in the wrong
environment can be a more challenging task to say the very least.
Growing a deep faith also may require work and patience. We
need to wait, with hope and trust in our hearts, and then at
the proper time the harvest will bring the full fruit in due
In our liturgical season of the year, Advent, we are moving
closer and closer to Christmas and the birth of the Messiah.
To encourage us and to keep us Hopeful, the church allows us
to celebrate with the more lively color of rose rather than
blue or purple. Thus, we are recognizing this leap forward on
Rose Sunday, a Hope Filled Sunday, and in my reflection on the
readings for the day, which I have called the Blooming Land
message, Borrowing the Eyes' of God for our Vision Ahead.
Our readings for Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent, Rose Sunday,
are beautiful, comforting, encouraging, delightful, and inspiring.
How can one resist the Joyful impact as we read the images found
in both the Isaiah 35 reading or the Eleventh Chapter of Matthew????
Both of these reading take us
to the Desert to imagine change and transformation---in both
a physical, earth bound way and in a personal spiritual way..
- In Isaiah we are asked to see the desert land full of joy!!!!!
- We are shown a Wilderness rejoicing and blossoming.....
- a land singing......a desert moved to a new level with plants
fed with moisture..... cactus
replaced by cattails and rushes.... water gushing out of the
- Transformation has also come to the people of God. The blind
see, the lame leap like deer,
- the deaf have their hearing delivered to them. All of God's
people will speak and shout for joy!
Matthew's Gospel speaks of the Man sent from God to bring the
Good News and healing to the people who have waited so long
for the Messiah to come to the people of God. . The same or
similar human physical healings are celebrated in the two readings.
The Blind are given their sight, the lame walk freely, the deaf
hear, and those with skin diseases are cured.
Perhaps the Kingdom of God for the people is nearer to the day
when the Desert is full of joy and the people of God are finally
delivered from pain and sorrow.
Jesus, according to Matthew's version of this story, acknowledges
the importance of John the Baptist and his work as a messenger
and prophet. He labels John--- the Elijah who was to come. Jesus
cheers on the faithful, forceful people who have advanced the
KINGDOM OF GOD to the moment in time when He can move the Kingdom
even further to completion through His healing ministry with
the lame, the deaf, the blind, and the disenfranchised members
As we read these prophetic, wisdom lessons, we can imagine
how we in our day and age can advance the transformation of
the world to these ideal images. We can set our hearts to the
needs of both the physical world and the world of humanity in
need of healing.
In my Journal of Fellowship
in Prayer, Sacred Journey, there is an article called Borrowing
the Eyes of God by Rebecca Laird. In her article she speaks
about a recent trip to visit Malawi, a village in southern Africa
as part of a mission trip to bring wells to a dry, arid part
of that country, In one village she observed the people using
a new well where the corn could be milled into flour for the
first time in generations and generations of the villagers.
She states that the once dusty plot of land at the edge of the
village was now a center of food, water, and community. The
well has restored the hope and the faith of the people.
At the next village the leaders spoke of the loss of many of
their village members due to waterborne diseases, and they shared
the 'good news' that the new well had spared the village from
more useless, unnecessary deaths. In the third village they
could hear the tall drill rig---booming out progress though
the packed dirt, gravel, and hard rock to reach mud, and then
finally clean water. Hope Springs Eternal through the sound
of the drill rig.
The gift of technology and wells had brought a change and new
hope to the people who had given up in so many ways. The Desert
was Blooming. The People could now see through the Eyes of God
to experience Hope again.
We too as the People of God
are asked to Come on a Sacred Journey to speed the ideals
of Isaiah, John the Baptist, Jesus, and the dedicated people
who are working to produce a Blooming World for all of God's
people in our own homeland where we struggle with environmental
issues or far away in Africa where solar ovens aid the village
women or a new well is being drilled. We simply need to ask
ourselves how we can make the Desert Bloom where we are planted
or where we are sent as God's representatives.
Rebecca Laird ended her article with these words: " WE
must literally and figuratively find ways to link our lives
together to help people seek life with all its fullness for
ourselves and others as we drill deeply and drink from the daily
groundwater of God's love."
She also offered a prayer by Howard Turman, a African-American
mystic, to inspire us to Borrow the Eyes of God to aid the Blooming
Let us pray.God is here in the midst of life, breaking through the
commonplace soil, glorifying the ordinary.
One must tread the earth with a deep awe and reverence.
God is in this place. Do not wait for the moments of great
crisis to hear God's Spirit winging near you.
Rather, find God now in the simple experience of daily
living, in the normal ebb and flow of life
as you live it each and every day looking for the Blooming Desert
through God's Eyes.