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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Isaiah 25:6–9   

On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear. And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever. Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.

It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation. (NRSV)

I have always had a green thumb, but I have had a love-hate relationship with most of the poinsettias I have kept over the years. Many times I have taken a poinsettia home from Fourth Church after the Christmas season is over, but no matter what I do, because of the lack of light, humidity, and warm temperatures in a Chicago winter, I watch the poinsettia go through a slow withering process until about April, when there are practically no leaves left on the poor plant. At this point, I prune off the few leaves that survived. Then I take the plant outdoors for the summer, and within weeks a thick sprouting of leaves—new life—bursts from every inch of the once-bare stems. By the end of summer the plant looks better than when I got it at Christmas.

Isaiah writes, “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food.” But in the very next sentence he writes, “And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples.”

We are living in times of transition and upheaval, but God is bringing something new into being. On the same mountain that the Lord makes a feast for all peoples, God also destroys the shroud cast over us; God makes and destroys on the same mountain, just as the poinsettia plant struggles and thrives in Chicago. Out of many struggles new things are emerging all around us, transforming people, the way we live and interact, the ways we care for and understand each other. The birthing pains of these transformations are difficult to endure, but we can take comfort that God is ultimately in control and loves each one of us fully and completely. Through that love of and from God, of and from each neighbor, all our struggles lead to new life.

Thank you, loving God, for creating feasts and for destroying shrouds; thank you for the struggles that lead to new awakenings. Guide me always during my trials to see that new horizons are emerging and that new life is happening all around me. Amen.

Written by John W. W. Sherer, Organist and Director of Music

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