Advent 1 Imagine … see … live …

For today’s “reading” you might like to watch this

I want you to imagine something.    To try to see something …

I want you to imagine a country where there is violence, war – much killing
and where much of the tension is hidden in and among religious differences.
And I want you to imagine that the country’s power
resides in males in politics and the military

And I want you to imagine the women in that country,
coming together as Muslim and Christian
and dressing in white,
and standing or lying peacefully by highways or at the markets
singing and praying.
And I want you to imagine those women blockading the presidential palace
when peace talks looked like faltering, and those women not letting anyone out
until they had achieved a resolution.

Can you dream that hard?
Can your imagination take you to that sort of place?
Can you see the people dancing in the streets?
That place is Liberia, Africa in 2003

Walter Brueggemann – one of the great biblical writers –
talks of the role of prophetic imagination.
it is the role of the prophet to imagine a world,  and to imagine it
just as if the creator of the world were a real character
and was actually effective in the way it worked.

Just imagine this

I want you to imagine something.    To try to see something …
I want you to imagine a world where for many years – more than a generation –
children have been being maimed and killed
because their play space, their backyards
the place where they grow and gather food,
is filled with unexploded landmines.

And I want you to imagine that people cared enough to do something about it.
I want you to imagine people
coming from across the globe to make this place a safe place.
I want you to see if you can imagine hard enough
that you can imagine the number of people being killed or injured by landmines
falling from 4320 per year to 280 per year in just over a decade.

Can you imagine hard enough to see that sort of scene?
Can you see green fields?
That place is Cambodia.   Now

There is something that is unreal about prophetic imagination.
There is something that makes people laugh –
and not so much laugh with, but at.

Prophetic imagination is silly.
It is in the true meaning non-sensical
Christian and Muslim women effecting peace in an African war
because they would let the men out?

A pile of people from all over the place
making it so you can plant rice instead of mines?

Sometimes prophetic imagination is truly laughable.

I mean imagine people beating their swords into ploughshares
or their fighting spears into farming tools.    Seriously

Isaiah’s prophetic imagination was just as silly as others.
Israel was a “nothing” state, wedged between Assyria and Egypt –
the superpowers.

Think of New Zealand, in conversations in the Cold War period,
between the USA and the USSR.
Nothing.   Nobodies.

And Israel was jostling hard to work out
where to position itself in the struggles for power, privilege and position.

Ah, but imagine this, says Isaiah.
A world where nations don’t fight each other.
Where the fine arts of warfare are not learnt and studied.

Prophetic imagination arises from the reality of where we are living.
And Advent calls us into a time of prophetic imagining

What is the reality of the place and setting we are living in?

There is a reality of leadership these days where “truth”
is tied to what we can convince people to believe.

There is a reality of our nation,
where we have successive governments with policies
to put vulnerable, traumatised children into a prison setting
because they or their parents
have wanted them to have a safe and decent life

There is a reality where more people will self harm and suicide this Christmas
than at any other time of the year

There is a reality where every week, at least one woman is killed every week
by her current or former partner
and more than one in 4 children have witnessed violence
against their mum or step mum

We are in a world that needs prophetic imagination.
And we are called into this right now – in the season of Advent.

As the passage in Isaiah closes, it moves from imagination to an invitation
“Come – house of Jacob – let us walk in the light of the Lord.” 

And in that we are called to move from seeing –
just as Isaiah, son of Amoz, “saw the word” –
to living – “just as Isaiah, responds in chapter 6.  “Here I am, send me”

We are invited into living the imagination as a reality.
We are invited to imagine – and to live
We are invited to dream – and to live
We are invited to see – and to live.
We are invited to hope – and to live.

Others may choose to fight –
but as for us, we will live in God’s paths

Others may choose to continue trauma upon others –
but as for us, we will live in God’s paths

Others may understand Christmas as material and forced pretend happiness,
but as for us, we will live in God’s paths

Others may abandon hope for expediency,
and sacrifice imagination for the limits of reality
but as for us, we will live in God’s paths

Rejoice, rejoice – Immanuel shall come to thee, O Israel 

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