Isaiah 2.12-22

12For the Lord of hosts has a day against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up and high; 13against all the cedars of Lebanon, lofty and lifted up; and against all the oaks of Bashan; 14against all the high mountains, and against all the lofty hills; 15against every high tower, and against every fortified wall; 16against all the ships of Tarshish, and against all the beautiful craft. 17The haughtiness of people shall be humbled, and the pride of everyone shall be brought low; and the Lord alone will be exalted on that day. 18The idols shall utterly pass away. 19Enter the caves of the rocks and the holes of the ground, from the terror of the Lord, and from the glory of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth. 20On that day people will throw away to the moles and to the bats their idols of silver and their idols of gold, which they made for themselves to worship, 21to enter the caverns of the rocks and the clefts in the crags, from the terror of the Lord, and from the glory of his majesty, when he rises to terrify the earth. 22Turn away from mortals, who have only breath in their nostrils, for of what account are they?

If Advent is a season of expectation, hope, and preparation, this reading seems to indict us for the wrong expectations. In the American Christmas, we expect – we think we’re owed – what is high, lofty, exotic, fancy, and indeed idolatrous. But Mary tells us what Isaiah tells us here; all that will be brought low. How can we learn to expect and hope for things other than the trappings and pomp and rites of American Empire and its annual imperial festival that is Christmas?

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