We hear again from Isaiah the Truth That Changes Everything, slaves hearing they’ll soon be set free:
The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me because God anointed me. He sent me to preach good news to the poor, heal the heartbroken, Announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners. God sent me to announce the year of his grace—
... I will sing for joy in God, explode in praise from deep in my soul! He dressed me up in a suit of salvation, he outfitted me in a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom who puts on a tuxedo and a bride a jeweled tiara. For as the earth bursts with spring wildflowers, and as a garden cascades with blossoms, So the Master, God, brings righteousness into full bloom and puts praise on display before the nations.
But that main actor, the Prime Mover in this story from ancient Israel, does the unthinkable… picks a day in all time, a moment, to materialize beyond just involvement… and He does it not through show of force or cosmic power, but by collaborating with a little Hebrew girl named Mary:
And Mary said,
I’m bursting with God-news; I’m dancing the song of my Savior God. God took one good look at me, and look what happened— I’m the most fortunate woman on earth! What God has done for me will never be forgotten, the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others. ... It’s exactly what he promised, beginning with Abraham and right up to now.
This Promise of incarnation, this incorporation of average Joes and Marys with God Who Sees a day as 1000 years, all time folding seamlessly with itself, continues to rescue families along with Israel; each individual matters… your name actually matters:
There once was a man, his name John, sent by God to point out the way to the Life-Light. He came to show everyone where to look, who to believe in. John was not himself the Light; he was there to show the way to the Light.
Moving throughout all time, involving Johns and Marys and Joes (and you) in eternal acts, this is the stuff of dreams… but not some ethereal fingers-crossed nor a cliche for whimsical aspiration; flipping coins cancel themselves out. It is no disconnected dream that Martin Luther King spoke to those under our own country’s oppression. He knew that the narrative is not over and the dream of expecting restoration, like the birth of a new child, is pregnant with a promise inextricable from action. He was holding to this Promise:
May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable. If he said it, he’ll do it!
So those people doomed to slave away in Egypt, “a narrow place,” so this birth announcement of God journeying from infinite grandeur through the canal with us is an expecting dream that “disturbs wholly,” it is a transforming joy that opens into wideness indescribable… and the message of the dream is this, “Wake up! The Promise is here!”