Read Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

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; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to 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.

They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. For I the LORD love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge that they are a people whom the LORD has blessed.

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.

 

from Rev. Earl Shaw

Minister of the Word, and Co-Pastor of Big Run Christian Church, Cameron

Isaiah prophesies to the time John the Baptist would spend wandering and waiting in the wilderness as he was preparing to proclaim his identity in God. Even before John’s conception, God had laid claim to his life; his identity would always be in relation to Jesus and in how he went on to live out his call to ministry.

John may make us somewhat uncomfortable because his very existence points us away from ourselves and toward the kingdom of God. Even though this doesn’t seem natural for us, John’s life and ministry compel us to ask ourselves this question: How do we link (sync) our personal stories with the master story of remaining open to what God is doing in our lives and in the world? Where, on our own list, do we place those things which we personally long for and wait for? Or this question: What does God’s desire for a reconciled and healed world have to do with our desire for our own yearnings?

These are difficult questions. They lack easy or definitive answers. There is nothing wrong with having our personal desires and prayerfully laying them before God. Indeed, we were created to flourish in the gift of God’s world while waiting for the fullness of arrival of the kingdom. Yet, we always should remain open to having our desires trumped by what God may invite us into for the sake of helping foster God’s kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

For all of our desires and longings, O God,

raise us toward a higher yearning –

for your reign of justice and peace. Amen.

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