Second Thursday in Advent

Second Thursday in Advent USEFUL TO THE KINGDOM?  12

Scripture: Isaiah 30:19-26

19 O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem,
    you will weep no more.
He will be gracious if you ask for help.
    He will surely respond to the sound of your cries.
20 Though the Lord gave you adversity for food
    and suffering for drink,
he will still be with you to teach you.
    You will see your teacher with your own eyes.
21 Your own ears will hear him.
    Right behind you a voice will say,
“This is the way you should go,”
    whether to the right or to the left.
22 Then you will destroy all your silver idols
    and your precious gold images.
You will throw them out like filthy rags,
    saying to them, “Good riddance!”

23 Then the Lord will bless you with rain at planting time. There will be wonderful harvests and plenty of pastureland for your livestock. 24 The oxen and donkeys that till the ground will eat good grain, its chaff blown away by the wind. 25 In that day, when your enemies are slaughtered and the towers fall, there will be streams of water flowing down every mountain and hill. 26 The moon will be as bright as the sun, and the sun will be seven times brighter—like the light of seven days in one! So it will be when the Lord begins to heal his people and cure the wounds he gave them.

Some thoughts:

     Sometimes these pericopes may seem a little distant. They were spoken to a specifically to Jewish people at a particular time in their troubled history. They had been in rebellion toward God and had paid a price. My guess is their situation is not all that dissimilar to the world of today. The food of our society seems to be adversity, much of it via manmade sin. Like the Israelites, one could rightfully say our society and culture have little regard for God at any level. While Isaiah’s words were spoken at a specific moment in history, they are equally apropos for our day. These beautiful words of healing and comfort still ring true and God’s calling is the same: “He will be gracious if you ask for help. He will surely respond to the sound of your cries.”

     I don’t know if you have anything on your mind today that has you a little off center. If so,  heed Isaiah’s words. You may be tempted to think that the small details of my little life are not worth God’s time. After all, he is holding the universe in place! Does God know my incidental thoughts? Yes, I’ll give you an example. A little while back I was wondering if my life in ministry really made any difference to anyone. Was I being useful to His kingdom? My conclusion was pretty pessimistic. The day I was struggling with that thought was the very day I got an email “out of the blue” (right!) from someone who had been in the choir thirty years ago commenting on the spiritual impact it had on his life. I had lost complete track of this person. In my book, that was “a smile from God” saying, “Dan, I know exactly where you are and what you are thinking. I’m answering your question with the voice of someone you know.”

     “You will see your teacher with your own eyes.Your own ears will hear him.” Years later the Jews did see and hear the rabbi Jesus with their own eyes and ears. But it is that same voice to which we are to listen. Take ten minutes today of silence and do nothing but open your heart to listen for his voice and then walk in his path.

     The final portion of this section points to a day, a glorious day in the future when God makes all things new. Part of the dialogue reminds me of God’s conversation with Adam and Eve in the Garden. This description is reminiscent of the Garden of Eden when the whole creation will be “Edenized,” that is, God will bring healing to his people and make all things new in a sinless restored creation.

Music: “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus”  Fernando Ortega


May the time not be distant, O God, when Thy name shall be worshiped in all the earth, when unbelief shall disappear, and error be no more. We fervently pray that the day may come when more and more people invoke Thy name, when corruption and evil give way to purity and goodness, when superstition no longer enslaves the mind, nor idolatry blinds the eye. We pray to the end that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Then shall Thy kingdom be established on earth and the word of Thine ancient seer be fulfilled. The Lord will reign for ever and ever. Amen.      ―freely adapted from the Evening Service for the Day of Atonement, Union Prayer Book, Cincinnati: Central Conference of American Rabbis, 1930, p.126, Daniel Sharp

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