Fellow Passengers: This week’s Prophetic Passage* (Isaiah 11:6-9) transports me to a land of alternative lifestyles among wolves, lambs, lions, leopards, and lions who find leadership among the little snake-handling children. It’s a scene full of motley meal partners and downright deviant sleeping arrangements. Lions will lose their appetite for veal cutlet and start grazing in the grass with the ox. Adolescent bears will start courting cows. Leopards will lose their spots in the food chain when they start lying around with goats. Infants will toss their toy rattlers when they find they can play with real live cobras.
It’s amazing what new possibilities for co-existence emerge when God’s Spirit is allowed free reign to re-create. Predators and prey make peace and join together in a new circle of life song, Praise with elation, praise every morning, God’s recreation of the new day (I always hear Cat Stevens voice when we sing that hymn). Given those incredible pictures of the peaceable kingdom the prophet paints for us, it’s amazingly sad how little we actually believe in those possibilities, how little we expect of God when it comes to the weekly wars we humans wage in our homes and across the globe. We confuse the way things are with the way things ought to be, and this keeps us from doing our part in bringing about Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. Isaiah leads us to believe that our predatory appetites really can be transformed; our instincts for stalking and striking can be re-wired. That’s the power of the cross; Jesus’ sacrificial love shifts our desires and our understanding of who can come to dinner, who can be our children’s playmates, it even opens up whole new possibilities for who we can carry across the threshold.
Fred Small is a folk singer who read a news story about a moose up north somewhere who got in a pasture and developed puppy love for one of the cows. He (Fred Small, not the moose) came up with a great children’s song that I think Isaiah would have loved. Here are some lyrics: If I were a moose and you were a cow would you love me anyhow? Would you introduce me to your folks, would you tell your friends “No moose jokes!” Would your parents watch us graze, shake their heads, “It’s just a phase” Or would they thank the stars above their precious heifer’s found her love? If our anatomies did not quite fit would you make the best of it? Would you nuzzle up so near and hum sweet cow tunes in my ear? Might you permit a goodnight kiss? Could you learn to love wet moose lips? May we all learn the crazy, deviant and defiant behavior of crossing the great divides of our lives to transform enemies into loved ones. Lead on little children.
*Daily Passages are the weekday reflections of Stan Dotson, connecting culture to biblical texts. Each week takes its guiding theme for the daily posts from the gospel reading on Monday, the “Primary Passage.” This week’s theme is “Division.” As always, your feedback and comments are welcome. Feel free to share where the passages take you in your journey of faith.