So one of my more unusual personal Advent traditions is that when the readings from Isaiah (11:1-10) appear in our lectionary describing the “Peaceable Kingdom” I reintroduce myself to the works of American painter Edward Hicks. Hicks (1780-1849) was a Quaker minister and artist who painted a depiction of the Peaceable Kingdom 62 times in his career, and it made up a significant fraction of his work. He was actually not well received in his own time because of his tendency to engage in this repetition, but eventually became a major figure in Quaker history.
Hick’s interest in the topic of the Peaceable Kingdom reflected his own theological belief that when humanity recognizes and surrenders to the divine presence within themselves that the boundaries that exist between us will cease. He saw the animals referenced in Isaiah as metaphors for the often violent interactions between cultures and nations (especially between the nascent United States and the native nations and peoples).
There is so much to Advent that seems to work on two levels: the remembering of those who anticipated the coming of Jesus Christ, and the immense patience and faithfulness in their hope; and the continued patience, faithfulness, and hope that Christians continue to hold as we await the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God.
So check out Edward Hicks and enjoy a bit of American and Christian history during this Advent season.
Yours in Christ,