I have to say that my response to the Isaiah passage this week startled me a bit. I am not exactly known for my optimism and I’m not much of a cheerleader. But when I read this passage my immediate response was, “Yes!” and “Thank you!” From the first words of promise for all things new and a forgetting of all things that have been, to the concluding image of the wolf and the lamb, I heard only words of on-going promise. This passage is a good reminder that God is always doing something new; the story is not over.
I don’t mean this in a way that glosses over the very real struggles in the world today, but in a way that provides hope for the hopeless. This passage describes the promise of only good things to come. It speaks of God’s love for God’s people, a love that will one day make all things new. When faced with the often overwhelming suffering around the world, it cannot hurt to be reminded that God has not abandoned even one corner of creation or those living there.
These prophetic words are timeless and the promise is ongoing. The people of God have always gone through times of hardship; weeping and distress are part of what it means to be human. Wars have raged throughout human history, storms have destroyed lives, human frailty and failings have cause deep pain, and we have grieved and yearned for better ways of living. God knows this reality and sent Jesus into the world to remind us how much we are loved.
We need reminding even now. Unlike the people of Isaiah’s time or Jesus’ time, we have science and technology and are less likely to blame God for everything. This does not, however, take away our need for God’s promise to be with us and to be about creating new places of peace and joy–through us, with us, or in spite of us.
This is good news for all of us who speak God’s name. In spite of typhoons in the Philippines, war in Syria, AIDS in Africa, and grieving souls in all places, God is still at work in the world, in the Church (in all her varied forms), and in us. You and I get to take part in creating this new heaven and earth that is emerging from the old.
Today, I say “Yes!” to the ongoing promise that is being fulfilled in each of us, through each act of kindness, and I say, “Thank you!” because the story is not going to end with human misery, war, and devastation.
RCL – Year C – Twenty-sixth Sunday after Pentecost – November 17, 2013
Isaiah 65:17-25 with Isaiah 12 or
Malachi 4:1-2a with Psalm 98
2 Thessalonians 3:6-13