ADVENT 2022: A SEASON OF REMEMBRANCE AND RESTORATION – CHRISTMAS DAY
December 20, 2022
Protecting the Vulnerable
(Rev. Dr. H. James Hopkins is Senior Pastor of Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church)
Isaiah 9:2-7 (NRSVUE)
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined.
3 You have multiplied exultation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as people exult when dividing plunder.
4 For the yoke of their burden
and the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
5 For all the boots of the tramping warriors
and all the garments rolled in blood
shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
6 For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders,
and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Great will be his authority,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Though whales are among the earth’s largest mammals, they are small when compared to ships. Whales often perish when the collide with large sea-going vessels. There were 70 fatal collisions recorded of the California coast from 2007 to 2020, 49 of them involving endangered or threatened species.
Thus, a new effort named Whale Safe has been launched. A device, called a hydrophone, sits on the ocean floor of the California coast and listens to the calls among whales as they swim and feed. It then transmits this information to a buoy on the surface which in turn relays it on shore where the location of whale calls and sightings are superimposed over the routes of ships helping the ships to avoid collisions with the whales.
The prophet Isaiah promises an effort by the Holy One, which like Whale Safe, is dedicated to saving and protecting a vulnerable, endangered population. As Whale Safe helps ships “see” the whales in the ocean the divine initiative is about a child who will grow to “see” the weary and heavy-laden people and guide them in the ways of peace, helping them to avoid the hate, the greed and the fear which threaten to destroy them.
The promise of the prophet is based on these words, “For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders” (9:6a) Like the hydrophone on ocean floor, the child will grow to see us, hear us and work to protect us from the destructive paths than threaten to destroy us. The child is a sign that Holy One will not rest until we are safely home.