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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

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)

Here we find an incredibly powerful text of renewal. When I read these words and imagine them in my mind, I hear them set to music. The image that comes to my mind occurs during a performance of Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz Gospel-Messiah as performed annually at the Auditorium Theatre. The alto soloist begins in a hushed voice: “Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened . . .” and the power of God’s redemption is palpable. The audience feels the promised healing and restoration.

The performance is usually held around the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. There is such power in this text for the restoration of right relationships among God’s people. With God’s guidance, the people will travel the Holy Way and there shall be no danger, but “everlasting joy shall be upon their heads, they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and signing shall flee away.” Our country and our world need this restoration.

Loving and powerful God, we thank you for your promise of wholeness and renewal. We know that we need to be healed and trust your power to make all things new and whole. May it be so. Amen.

Written by Gretchen Vannatta, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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