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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Today's Scripture Reading | Isaiah 42:10–17

Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the end of the earth! Let the sea roar and all that fills it, the coastlands and their inhabitants. Let the desert and its towns lift up their voice, the villages that Kedar inhabits; let the inhabitants of Sela sing for joy, let them shout from the tops of the mountains. Let them give glory to the Lord, and declare his praise in the coastlands.

The Lord goes forth like a soldier, like a warrior he stirs up his fury; he cries out, he shouts aloud, he shows himself mighty against his foes. For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in labor, I will gasp and pant. I will lay waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their herbage; I will turn the rivers into islands, and dry up the pools. I will lead the blind by a road they do not know, by paths they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I will do, and I will not forsake them. They shall be turned back and utterly put to shame—those who trust in carved images, who say to cast images, “You are our gods.” (NRSV)

Depicting God as a Divine Warrior has limitations. I don’t believe God uses power in a militaristic, triumphant, dominating way. Recently the United Nations rescinded their naming the comic book superhero, Wonder Woman, an Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls. The UN initially wanted to associate Wonder Woman’s strength and fight for justice with their goal to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. But many UN staff protested. They said, “Although the original creators may have intended Wonder Woman to represent a strong and independent warrior woman with a feminist message, the reality is that the character’s current iteration is that of a large-breasted, white woman of impossible proportions, scantily clad in a shimmery, thigh-baring body suit with an American flag motif and knee high boots—the epitome of a pin-up girl.” Oops. The UN stripped Wonder Woman of her role two months later.

Before we dismiss Divine Warrior altogether, let’s realize what was going on with the people the prophet Isaiah addressed. They were plagued with hopelessness after experiencing the perennially ravaging effects of war, captivity, and homelessness. A veil of gloom robbed them of energy, increasing their inertia, despair, and sense of bondage. They were accommodating or resigning themselves, including worshiping local gods. Their worldview held a mythic cosmology that perceived that all that was threatening arose from unruly forces of chaos. Hope could spring from an active God, who engaged those threatening forces in order to restore order and renew creation. The good news of the Divine Warrior—for them and for us—is that God is actively engaged in the world, rousing us from lethargy to challenge all that oppresses life.

Help me sing your new song, Powerful Spirit, and live in hope. Amen.

Written by Victoria G. Curtiss, Associate Pastor for Mission

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