Hope in the Age of Darkness: Gifts of the Incarnation
From desolation to delight. That is how the narrative of Israel’s journey is told. This Isaiah (who is likely the third author contributing to the larger work of what we know simply as Isaiah) recalls the time of desolation. Israel had been conquered and was overtaken by the Babylonians and the Assyrians in their lives. Like the ancestors of so many of our African-American siblings, the Israelites were taken from their homeland and either kept in bondage or resettled far from their homeland. They longed to sing the songs of Zion on the holy mountain where the temple had dwelt.
By the 40th chapter of Isaiah, they had experienced redemption through another conqueror known as Cyrus the Persian. They were coming home and reestablishing their own land. By the time we get to the 3rd Prophet Isaiah in the 55th chapter, we are hearing new songs of hope about a new future. They had moved from desolation to delight.
I think desolation is how many people feel about our pandemic. As we experience the unfolding of our holidays with the deep desire to gather with our larger families now hindered by the coronavirus, we feel cut off and separated. Like the Israelites, we long for deliverance.
As we experience the tumultuous political, religious, racial conflicts described with each day’s news cycle, we sense this darkness that divides us … that brings so much harm … that threatens the very fabric of our communities. We seek a pathway forward that offers healing and wholeness instead of bitterness and divisiveness.
Isaiah’s message is that our God is a God of hope and redemption. As we move through the challenges in our world, we are looking for signs of hope. Isaiah’s promise is that God has not forsaken us. God loves us and has secured for us the greatest gift.
It is the gift of hope and life! With the gift of God’s abiding love, we then move from desolation to delight.
Lord, offer us the word that we have not been forsaken. Give us the vision for a community restored by your love and your grace. Amen.