Watching for the Light: Prose and Possibility

With the alliteration of a poet, Emily Dickinson reminds us that there are two ways in which life can be lived—by prose, or in possibility. That is, we can move through life in a strictly pedestrian fashion, predicting and prescribing our way through our days, hedging against threats, meting out favors only of a reasonable sort. Or we can open our hearts and minds and lives in anticipation that at any given moment someone may say to us something as preposterous as “Behold, I bring you good news of great joy!” with the further possibility that at any given moment we may find ourselves speaking those same preposterous words to someone else.

We’ve been hearing from prophets all season long: Jesus (Mark 13), John (Mark 1), Mary, (Luke 1), and this coming Sunday, Isaiah 61. These prophets’ vision for a new world is as wide as the sky: a Savior to make all things right; the hungry fed, the overfilled sent away; broken hearts mended, the captives set free. These are among the prophets’ visions; these are the possibilities God has given them to share with a world that tends toward the prosaic while secretly watching, waiting for something extraordinary, something to dispel darkness and instill hope.

There is one other prophesy that deserves mention—further evidence of a class of prophets whose vision was possibility-blessed rather than prose-bound. Early in Isaiah we hear these words: A young woman shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel, that is, “God-with-us.” Nothing quite vaults the imagination from prose to possibility like being notified that God is about to be born.

The days of Advent as they lead us to Christmas are filled with messages about this particular possibility, the mystery and miracle that God is about to be born—in Bethlehem, and elsewhere, too—possibly in a heart near you. One can always hope, which is where it all seems to begin.

Grace and peace.

Rev. Paul L. Escamilla, Senior Pastor