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.
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?”
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.