Yesterday, I was reminded of the loss of a friend to death this past month as I looked at his picture on the kitchen desk. Looking out the window, all I could see was the grey winter sky and the stark branches of the empty trees and the weird glare of the street lights strung along the cross street not far from our house. I was left with the feeling that we truly are in exile in this world, that none of this is the final destination, that I will not stay here, in this place, "forever." I, too, and my wife as well, and all of us at some time will follow my friend into death. We will move on to what's next.
Enter the readings of this week. The themes of faith and hope have run through them. The theme of hope jumps off the pages of Isaiah, what life will be like when the Lord God restores his people. This morning in Matthew we have the faith of the two blind men, who believe Christ can truly cure them.
This is our story in Advent. We know that we are an exiled people. We hope for the eternal feast that Isaiah writes, and we have the faith of blind men that Jesus Christ is the Way to that eternal life. So we choose to live a life that is in this world and yet is not. It is because of this choice that we may not always fit in with those who choose this world and this world alone. Isaiah writes about them as well, and it's not a fate to look forward to! It is because of this choice that others may not fully understand the view we have, the view of faith and hope.
Faith and hope, as I wrote earlier this week, lead to charity. If you truly have the first two, you are instinctively led to the third. In this exile, your choices are always before you. Am I faithful and hopeful and therefore act in the love of God, or do I deny what I know and turn against it in my weaknesses. Someday, this conflict will be resolved with eternal finality. But for now, well, it's the life of the blessed exile, isn't it.