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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Isaiah 25:6–9     

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear. And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever. Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation. (NRSV)

For those of us who joined the Easter Sunday throngs at Fourth Presbyterian Church a few days ago, these words of the prophet Isaiah ring in our ears with familiarity, for they were the first scripture lesson on that deeply joyful day. And they remain on my mind, due to the rich images the prophet used that resonate in this Eastertide season.

The promised arrival of God’s reign will be celebrated with a gourmet meal and fine aged wines to be savored on Mt. Zion. Most important, though, is who is invited to share in the feast: not just the leaders of the people, not just the elite, but all peoples shall share this very special meal together. The culmination of God’s welcoming love is radically inclusive.

Then the prophet continues with the promise that the sheet—or shroud—that covers all peoples, all nations, shall be destroyed. Likely this signifies the clothes of mourning that were worn following a death. This attire will no longer be needed!

As if to underline this claim, the prophet uses an image from neighboring Canaanite mythology. Death will be swallowed up forever. Our grieving tears will be wiped away by a gentle, divine hand.

May these images continue to enrich our faithful imaginations during the Eastertide season. There is so much death that surrounds us each day in the wars that continue and the seemingly unending gun violence in schools and neighborhoods. Let us hold on to the prophetic promise of a new day of joy and peace that embraces all God’s people. Death does not have the last word. Alleluia! Amen!

Death-defying God, I am deeply grateful for the prophetic images that enhance our Easter faith. May they echo in our minds as we live into the new life to which we are called as your Easter people. We pray in the name of our risen Lord. Amen.

Written by Jeffrey Doane, Parish Associate for Older Adults

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