Our Advent desert journeying is unlike that of Lent. We are not so much wrestling with demons as with images of abundance, lavish promises, theology we can almost grasp.
The banquet on the mountain-top of which Isaiah speaks today is rather like the psalmist’s banquet in the sight of our foes: a not entirely comfortable experience. We have to make an effort ourselves, and be prepared to take the consequences. I wonder whether we ever think what that might mean when we read Isaiah 25? What is the effort we have to make to ensure our Advent is fruitful, and will that require us to make ourselves conspicuous in ways we would prefer to avoid? Shall we have to go against other people’s expectations; if so, how and why?
As lockdown ends and a new three-tier system of restraints begins in England, it would be easy to say the worst is over, we should just get back to ‘normal’ as quickly as possible. There is no end of often poorly-understood statistics and contradictory opinions to back that up. A more thoughtful approach, however, demands that we try to do what is prudent and in the best interest of others — and that is much less easy to decide. The point about that mountain-top banquet is that it isn’t just for one group — us — but for all; and in his humility and love, the Lord invites us to play our part in welcoming others to the feast. The question for us today, therefore, is how do we do that?