The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; 2to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 3to provide for those who mourn in Zion— to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
Dreamers are often too easily dismissed. We love to hear the words of the prophet Isaiah at this time of year, but do we take them seriously? You see, in the prophet’s day, people found Isaiah to be a bit strange. He was a dreamer who spoke words that pointed to a time that was too good to be true. He spoke of a day that was impossible to imagine. Most dismissed him and his words because they couldn’t see what he could see.. To be a prophet, you had to see beyond what is in order to see what could be. Today, there are many of us who have an issue with seeing as the prophets of old call us to see. We are willing to settle for a mediocre version of our world and of our faith.
Can you allow yourself a bit of privilege this day? Give yourself the joy of getting a glimpse of seeing life not as it is, but as it can be. Not just for yourself, but for everyone. Isaiah is pointing us to a day when the oppressed will hear good news, the brokenhearted will know wholeness, captives will know freedom, and prisoners will gain release. The world will be turned upside down. He is pointing us to a time when God will use a baby born in a humble manager to signal that the day is upon us.
Redemption is promised. That redemption will not so gently nudge us out of our comfort zones and into God’s future. Will this be the time when you and I decide to see something bigger at work in us and through us? I hope and pray so, because God desires all to know wholeness and to know that beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is love. Allow yourself to see the world not as it is, but as it can be.
“A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.” Isaiah 40:3-4
What’s alive in you?
What’s alive in us collectively that we may not even realize is alive?
The holidays, even more so this year, are a time when it can be difficult to feel what is alive in us. We remember the past, we lament what is broken. Broken relationships, threats of war, marginalization of others, unmet expectations, and promises that never came to be become magnified during this time of year. Specifically this year, the eclipse of the light by the darkness seems more prevalent.
The ancient people of Jerusalem know these feelings. They had been conquered by the Babylonians, removed from their homeland. The blame game was strong. Some blamed God, others blamed another, and a few blamed themselves. Their is doubt, fear, and anxiety that they will never seen their homeland again. This is wilderness, where life is hard to sense.
Isaiah has great nerve. The spirit of the Lord speaks through the prophet and has the nerve to speak words of peace, words of life. Take comfort, because the way of the Lord is being cleared for you at this very moment. In scripture, the wilderness is often where peace begins. It’s the place where transformation- personal and communal- begins. The way to God almost often takes one to the desert. Peace begins in the wilderness.
What if we lived each day during this Advent season not lamenting what is broken, but sensing what is alive in us? What if we lived knowing that a way, a way in which God’s light will be revealed anew. is coming?
What’s alive in you?
What’s alive in us?
Come, house of Jacob let’s walk by the Lord’s light. Isaiah 2:5
One of my new favorite songs of the season is “A Light” by the Brilliance. The chorus goes like this, “Peace to all this night. A hope and light shine bright.”
As we enter into this season of Advent that leads us to Christmas, we are seeking to find peace. Peace in our personal lives. Peace in our communal lives. We lament that which seeks to tear us apart in this day and age. Many of us may be worried about Christmas gatherings that include family and friends who think and believe differently than we do.
Isaiah is writing during a fractured time in Israel’s history. The prophet seems to be writing encouragement towards a future time, but is actually calling on the people to look in the proverbial mirror now. God’s peace and justice are not for a far off time, but for a time such as this.
As we enter into the season of Advent, perhaps it is time for us to closely examine our own lives. Are we the type of people who radiate a light that draws people towards God and God’s ways? Madeline L’Engle offers this for us; “We do not draw people to Christ by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.”
Isaiah had deep trust in the people of his time and that trust remains today. We are not only called, but equipped to walk in the light of the Lord. It is simply who God has created us to be. During this Advent season, may we each fully embrace this reality.