Saturday, December 17, 2016

God's joyful dream

Daily reading: Isaiah 61:1-11
Saturday, December 17, 2016

Focus passages: The LORD God’s spirit is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me.  He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim release for captives, and liberation for prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and a day of vindication for our God, to comfort all who mourn… Isaiah 61:1-2
I surely will rejoice in the LORD; my heart is joyful because of my God, because he has clothed me with clothes of victory, wrapped me in a robe of righteousness like a bridegroom in a priestly crown, and like a bride adorned in jewelry.  Isaiah 61:10

God is doing a new thing, the people are not returning to a sovereign Israel, the monarchy as it was under David will not be restored,  Israel will continue to be marred  with a continued story of foreign occupation. 

Everything in their society, down to their sacred temple is so broken that the only way to move forward is to do something new. It’s so broken that they need God to initiate the action.  God has to physically bring them back from exile, to pave the road ahead.   God has to spiritually bring them back to remind them what the hoped for future kingdom looks like.  What the joyful kingdom that is and will be looks like.
The prophet speaks of the year of Jubilee from Leviticus 25, a year of release, when those indentured in service are freed, where debts are forgiven and land used as a form of payment is returned to the original owner, it is a year of socioeconomic reconfiguration of the community.  Even amidst this rubble there is this radical realignment and hope.  God is planting seeds that need time to develop and tending as they grow. 
You see, there is no evidence that Jubilee was ever lived out before the exile, but it is revisited here as a continued dream of God’s as it was back in the formation of the nation of Israel, now as they have returned from exile it is re-imagined, and will be again when Jesus preaches from this text in Nazareth at the beginning of his public ministry, and it is offered to us today to be re-imagined and remembered as a dream that God still holds for our world.

This dream of bringing good news to the poor and binding of the brokenhearted,  and releasing people from crippling debt and comforting those who mourn is followed by future conversation of how God will move us forward and what that will look like.  While looking at the ruins, perhaps longing for what was, God forces a change of perspective to the future, so we can actively participate in the dream and vision God has for us all.

We are called to be faithful in all times, in times of heart break and sorrow and in times of joy and exploration.  We witness to our faithfulness to God when things are changing; in the continued story of exile and homecoming, of death and resurrection. 

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

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