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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, January 1, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Isaiah 43:16–21

Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, who brings out chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick: Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild animals will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself so that they might declare my praise. (NRSV)

Hope might not come naturally. In our prophetic scriptures, we read deep-seated cries, tales of wrath and destruction, and hope. We suddenly find hope in the scriptures when hopelessness starts to root itself. God speaks in Isaiah saying, “I am about to do a new thing; . . . do you not perceive it?” It’s easy to think, No God, I don’t perceive it. How can the exiled Israelites find hope? Turning to the New Testament, how can a poor Palestinian Jew named Jesus find hope? In our context, how can we find hope after a mother is deported and ripped apart from her family?

Somebody’s finding hope in the wilderness, though. It might not be you right now, but here’s when we turn to our faith community and search for it. It’s there. God’s too persistent to give up on our fragility. God’s new thing depends on all of us grabbing hold of that hope, fueling us into living faithfully and boldly. Where we do find it, the Spirit’s presence is strong.

Today we hear hope through Isaiah. Tomorrow it could be in you. You can hear it in the streets as black youth sing out Kendrick Lamar’s lyrics “We gon’ be alright!”You can hear it in Mario Benedetti’s poetry, a Uruguayan poet once exiled, under a political dictatorship, for his literature. He writes, “If each hour brings death, if time is a den of thieves, the breezes carry a scent of evil, and life is just a moving target, you will ask why we sing.” Where is the hope? Just look around; God’s making a way. And hoping? ’It’s like the waiting in Advent. It’s what we do. Hope is our faith practice. May it be how we embrace this new year.

Persistent Spirit, turn us towards your hopeful presence found around us. We know you’re among us like water in the wilderness . . . singing. Amen.

Written by Abbi Heimach-Snipes, Pastoral Resident

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