Thursday of the Third Week in Advent
December 15, 2022
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Isaiah uses powerful, passionate images to describe the relationship between God and Israel.
The Lord calls you back,Isaiah 54:6-7
like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit,
A wife married in youth and then cast off,
says your God.
For a brief moment I abandoned you,
but with great tenderness I will take you back.
In an outburst of wrath, for a moment
I hid my face from you;
But with enduring love I take pity on you,
says the Lord, your redeemer.
This relationship is best conceptualized as COVENANT. The great prophets use human covenants as images to help describe an otherwise indescribable God. For example, there are biblical passages which imagine God as Father, Mother, Friend, King, Shepherd, Lover, and Spouse.
Of course, God is infinitely more than any one of these relationships, but that “more” is beyond our human capacity to comprehend. So these human images give us some starting point to open ourselves in prayer as to how God wants to be with us at particular times in our lives.
In today’s passage, Isaiah speaks to a people devastated by captivity in Babylon. Jerusalem is occupied, their Temple is destroyed, and their reality is particularly bleak. They feel abandoned by the God who once companioned them to the Promised Land. And they feel like they brought the abandonment on themselves by their faithlessness to the Covenant.
What does the passage say to me?
- Have I ever felt forgotten by God? Or at least invisible and unimportant?
- Do I regret a bit of “faithlessness” in my own life?
- Do I wonder if some of the difficulties in my life are merited because my faith is weak?
Well, if so, then Isaiah 54 was written for me, because the God who is in covenant with me is ever-faithful, loving and forgiving. God is always with me and for me. Despite my worries, ideations, or scruples, God is eternally committed to me:
Though the mountains leave their placeIsaiah 54:10
and the hills be shaken,
My love shall never leave you
nor my covenant of peace be shaken,
says the Lord, who has mercy on you.
Poetry: Where Is God? – Mark Nepo is a poet and spiritual adviser who has taught in the fields of poetry and spirituality for over 40 years. Nepo is best known for his New York Times #1 bestseller,The Book of Awakening. A cancer survivor, Nepo writes and teaches about the journey of inner transformation and the life of relationship.
It’s as if what is unbreakable—
the very pulse of life—waits for
everything else to be torn away,
and then in the bareness that
only silence and suffering and
great love can expose, it dares
to speak through us and to us.
It seems to say, if you want to last, hold on to nothing. If you want to know love, let in everything. If you want to feel the presence of everything, stop counting the things that break along the way.
Music: Faithful God – Islington Baptist Church