“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation…” (Isaiah 52:7, NRSV)
As a bishop, I have the privilege of installing pastors regularly in new calls. Frequently this passage from Isaiah is chosen as the first reading. Paul himself quotes it in Romans in 10:15 when he talks about the necessity of people being sent to proclaim the gospel in order to call forth saving faith. This season of Advent is pregnant with the hope of God’s inbreaking reign for a world starving for a word of hope. This proclamation, however, is never the job of rostered ministers only, but also of those forgiven and reborn in the waters of baptism.
In the passage from Isaiah, those who come to Zion with good news are all the returning exiles, not just their leaders. The hopeful message of Advent is not only that God took flesh in Jesus Christ in Bethlehem 2000 years ago, but also that God continues to take flesh here and now whenever the likes of you and me speak a message of hope, forgiveness, and life to people who are hopeless, captive to sin, and dead. This same Jesus still takes flesh whenever the word is proclaimed, water is poured, bread is broken and wine is shared. God wants your feet and mine as introverted, insecure, inarticulate, inexperienced, questioning and hesitant that we might be. The good news that we proclaim is God’s and not our own.
The message of Advent that has been spoken into our hearts and souls and the message that our feet are now called to carry is that amid a broken, warring, starving, divided world that even now our God announces peace, brings good news and announces salvation. There is a day of redemption coming and Advent is the reminder that it is in sight.
God of our past, present and future, thank you for revealing your good news, peace and salvation in the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Make out feet swift in carrying this message to the world you love so dearly. Amen.
+ Robert Schaefer, Bishop, Florida-Bahamas Synod