God among us

Daily reading: Isaiah 61:1-11
Monday, December 12, 2016

Focus passage:  They will rebuild the ancient ruins; they will restore formerly deserted places; they will renew ruined cities, places deserted in generations past. Isaiah 61:4

This foundational scripture in Isaiah comes after the exiles have returned and begin the long hard process of rebuilding the temple, of restoring the protective wall around Jerusalem and in piecing back the fragments of their lives.   Just as we see distinct traits and unique perspectives formed within the variety of generations present here today, there are distinct traits and unique perspectives within the various groups that find themselves in Jerusalem after the exile.

 Some of the exiles had never stepped foot into Jerusalem, they were born in Babylon and that is the only home they know.  Others lived through the horror of captivity and forced exile to the land of their conquerors.  And then there were those who were left behind in the rubble to eke out an existence with the infrastructure of their community gone. With, of course, those who were born in Jerusalem during the exile only to know their community to be sparse in population with a ruined infrastructure.   Sorrow and sadness blanket this time for the people of Israel.

The exiles return to a temple in ruins and join those who have lived among the rubble.

I can only imagine the sense of exhaustion of returning to something that needs to be rebuilt.   I can only imagine the mixture of emotions of joy and sorrow, of anticipation and mourning.  I can only image what those who were left behind felt when they saw people returning.   I can only imagine the enormity of the task, the disappointment, the disillusionment and even the division that would have been present in the community.  We read about in other prophets, not just in Isaiah, the return was not easy.  Nothing had been easy for some time.  When structures fall apart, it is always hard. 

 As people of faith, we ask where do we find God in substantial change?  Do we look backwards remembering when God was with us?  Do we recognize the presence of God among us now even if it is different from yesterday?  Or do we anticipate God leading us forward into the unknown future?


Prayer, God of Advent Joy, help me to be faithful to you in all times.  Amen.

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