He ate grass like a cow, and he was drenched with the dew of heaven.
He lived this way until his hair was as long as eagles’ feathers
and his nails were like birds’ claws.
“After this time had passed, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven.
My sanity returned, and I praised and worshiped the Most High
and honored the one who lives forever.
His rule is everlasting, and his kingdom is eternal. All the people of the earth are nothing compared to him. He does as he pleases among the angels of heaven and among the people of the earth. No one can stop him or say to him, ‘What do you mean by doing these things?’
“When my sanity returned to me, so did my honor and glory and kingdom.
My advisers and nobles sought me out,
and I was restored as head of my kingdom,
with even greater honor than before.
“Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and glorify and honor the King of heaven.
All his acts are just and true, and he is able to humble the proud.”
Image from Art4TheGlryOfGod by Sharon under Creative Commons license
Our world carries the scars of the way we live, Jesus; the preferential treatment given to the few who are wealthy and powerful and famous leaves the rest ignored and neglected; the desperate quest for more leaves all of us feeling less, enjoying less; the self-protective aggression we embrace to feel safe leaves us and others wounded and frightened; the apathetic disregard for the suffering, the grieving, the dying leaves us disconnected from our own humanity, from our ability to feel and to care.
We need our world turned upside down, Jesus; We need our self-importance and self-sufficiency to be undermined; We need a new way of being that is built on a whole new set of
values: Humble the powerful and exalt the humble, we pray; Fill the hungry with good things, and keep the satisfied from taking even more; Give us the wisdom to let a Child lead us into a world of justice and love; into the joy of sacrifice and service and simplicity.
O come, Emmanuel, and ransom your captive people. Amen.
John van de Laar, South African Methodist worship minster
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord— and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.
The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling[a] together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Shall I collect together all the words that praise your holy Name?
Shall I give you all the names of this world —you, the Unnameable?
Shall I call you “God of my life, meaning of my existence, hallowing of my acts, my journey’s end, bitterness of my bitter hours, home of my loneliness, you my most treasured happiness”?
Shall I say: “Creator, Sustainer, Pardoner, Near One, Distant One, Incomprehensible One, God both of flowers and stars, God of the gentle wind and of terrible battles, Wisdom, Power, Loyalty, and Truthfulness, Eternity and Infinity, you the All-merciful, you the Just One, you – Love itself?”
He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.
I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.
Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations,
to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.