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Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Today’s Reading | Isaiah 35:1–10
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty of our God.
Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
“Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
He will come and save you.”
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
A highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the unclean shall not travel on it,
but it shall be for God’s people;
no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.
No lion shall be there,
nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
but the redeemed shall walk there.
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. (NRSV)
People seeing a desert in bloom—who have never seen. People hearing music—who have always been deaf. People dancing and leaping lightly across the ground—who have always walked with a crutch or not at all. People singing—who have never been able to speak. An image of pure joy, and in the midst of this joy, a promise of safety.
An image of God watching over this celebration of land and people, protecting them and bringing them finally home. I smile. I raise my head from reading, look up and out, and see the playful picture before me of singing and dancing, swirling color, and laughing faces.
But whenever I hear, “Let us pray,” I don’t look up and out. I instinctively drop my head and close my eyes. I clasp my hands and close my chest. Why? Why is that the way we pray? Wouldn’t God like to see our faces when we pray? Wouldn’t God like to think that we enjoy talking to our God? Wouldn’t we feel freer to tell God our joys and sorrows and needs and thanks with our heads up and our hands open?
That is what this passage is encouraging me to do—pray up, not down. Pray with joy and with the expectation that God hears me and loves me and will keep me safe while we talk. Pray with an open heart.
I invite you to say this prayer with your hands open on your lap and your face turned up toward the light:
Dear God, I’m happy to talk with you today. Thank you for all the joys, small and large, you bring into my life. Thank you for flowers and music and smiles and miracles. Thank you for your constant presence in my life. Alleluia. Amen.
Written by Jean Marie Koon, member of Fourth Presbyterian Church
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