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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Isaiah 55:10–13    

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off. (NRSV)

The first sermon I ever preached—while I was still in high school—was based on these verses. It was entitled “Have I reached the party to whom I am speaking?”—a line often spoken by comedian Lily Tomlin on the TV show Laugh-In in the ’70s. It was always good for a laugh, not only because of the way Tomlin portrayed a switchboard operator, but because of the question itself. Of course if you are speaking to someone, you have reached them, right?

But the writer of Isaiah recognizes that it is possible for someone to speak without reaching another. The words go forth but accomplish nothing. Not so with the Word of God. Through God’s Word, God will accomplish God’s purpose. “It shall not return to me empty, but it shall . . . succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

What God wants to accomplish will cause mountains to burst into song; trees to clap their hands; people to go out in joy and be led back in peace. God will bring forth fruitfulness and beauty rather than thorns and prickly bushes. As the rain waters the earth and brings forth seed and bread, so shall God’s Word nurture all creation so once again the earth is verdant and people live in harmony. This promise comes to people who have lived for years in exile. God is giving them assurance and hope that a new day is coming. God will make it happen. Time and again, God restores and renews us, generously pouring out love so we may know abundant life.

I praise you, Life in all life, for your overflowing love and purpose in moving all the earth toward peace and joy. Thank you for giving me hope in a new day. Amen.

Written by Victoria G. Curtiss, Associate Pastor for Mission

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