The promise comes close...advent thoughts on lions, power and presence

Daniel in the lion’s den comes to us in the week of Thanksgiving.  Where does God’s promise come close to you in this story?   

We tend to fixate on the lions and how Daniel is miraculously saved from the mouth of death. 

Reading this now, I notice other things in this story—Daniel is a foreigner, an immigrant from Judah living in a place where he was not born.  His talents and spirit are noticed and he is called upon to lead in the king’s court.  His fellow leaders observe his differences and instead of learning from him, they plot to kill him.  Their power and influence is fueled as they conspire together against the one who is different.  They manipulate the king by flattery and a law is passed to prohibit Daniel from expressing his faith in God.  The king gets trapped in these ploys of power like a spider snagged in its own web.  Even though he would like to, the king is unable to save Daniel.

Power, evil and manipulation are real. They fester in insecurity and fearfully within groups.  We see it like graffiti all over religious and political history and on bathroom walls.  Yet, the promise we find in this story is that in the midst of this mounting power of the world, God enters with a different kind of power, one that is quiet and hidden.

God notices Daniel and his daily prayers, his intent to do good for others and to trust in God.  We look for God to counteract repugnant power with even more power, but instead God comes with presence that is often unseen.  And although disguised in the seemingly ordinary, God’s love and presence is powerful enough to close a lion’s mouth, bring light in the darkness and ultimately life from death.

Eventually King Darius is changed because God is revealed to him through Daniel.

In the festering powers of this world, God’s promise come close and we need to hear stories like Daniel because they reveal the truth about us and about God.  Human power, insecurity and manipulation will continue to breed and grab the headlines, but it is in the foot note that God authors love and compassion into this world, showing up in people who dare to speak peace, work for justice and step up for the sake of another.

The story of Jesus birth speaks again of God coming close into this world in small unexpected ways, far from the power-seeking forces we see in the world.  May we soak up, reflect and embody this promise in how we show up each day, and may we be ones who usher in peace and love that can subdue the greedy, power-hungry lions within and without.  Come Lord Jesus.

pastor beth