Week of Advent 4, Year One[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 72 (morning) // 111, 113 (evening)
I couldn’t make it through today’s first reading without professional help. It turns out that the text flummoxes even professionals, though! The general consensus seems to be that some of Israel’s leaders are making fun of the prophet Isaiah, suggesting that his preaching is nothing but baby-talk.
According to these scoffers, Isaiah’s message is suitable only for those recently “weaned from milk, those taken from the breast.” Translators are unsure of how to render the characterization of Isaiah’s teaching as simply “precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.”
I think that The Message translation of the Bible does a great job with these verses: “We’re not babies in diapers to be talked down to by such as you—’Da, da, da, da, blah, blah, blah, blah. That’s a good little girl, that’s a good little boy.'” As this translation captures, the leaders of Israel find Isaiah’s words disrespectful, oversimplifying, and unintelligible.
What a poignant passage to read on the day before Christmas, when God chooses to speak to us in baby talk. In the infant Jesus, God’s message to us is unpretentious, blazingly simple, and yet still too mysterious to comprehend. That’s how God has been trying to speak to his people all along. Nothing could be clearer.
Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.