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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Isaiah 51:1–6

Listen to me, you that pursue righteousness, you that seek the Lord. Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for he was but one when I called him, but I blessed him and made him many. For the Lord will comfort Zion; he will comfort all her waste places, and will make her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song.

Listen to me, my people, and give heed to me, my nation; for a teaching will go out from me, and my justice for a light to the peoples. I will bring near my deliverance swiftly, my salvation has gone out and my arms will rule the peoples; the coastlands wait for me, and for my arm they hope. Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth beneath; for the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment, and those who live on it will die like gnats; but my salvation will be forever, and my deliverance will never be ended. (NRSV)

Reflection
This is the prophet Isaiah’s pastoral moment. He is preaching to a people who have just experienced a traumatic exile. His near-impossible task is to heal the wounds of division, disorientation, and defeat. The people of God are devastated and depleted. Through a poem of prophecy and prose, the prophet attempts to call the people out of the ruins of despair and into hope.

We may not have experienced an exile like the Israelites, but we do know devastation and despair. Cancer. The death of a loved one. A move to a new and unfamiliar place. A rapidly changing world. AS it did for the Israelites, it would make sense that the disruptions and pain of this life would cause serious questions regarding God’s ability or willingness to save us.

The prophet Isaiah calls us to stretch our hope beyond the desires of this world. Our hope is not found in the mortal reality of this life but in God alone. Even if the sky burns away like smoke and the earth wears away to nothing, there is room for the hope found in a God who promises to never abandon us. The promise given to Abraham and Sarah, Moses and Miriam, Jesus and his band of disciples is given to us still today. God’s salvation—God’s mercy and love—will last forever. That’s a hope that can survive—even thrive—among our questions, despair, and brokenness. Thanks be to God.

Prayer
Almighty God, you are the rock from which I was chiseled,
   and the quarry from which I was unearthed.
Thank you for the promise of your unending love.
May I so live by your light in the changes and chances of this world,
that in the world to come I may know your everlasting hope.
   Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Written by Shawn Fiedler, Worship and Adult Education Coordinator


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