Today’s Reading from the Hebrew Scripture’s was from Isaiah 25. It sounds like this in “The Message” (The Message is a biblical paraphrase that I read from time to time to get a different perspective on scripture)
But here on this mountain, God-of-the-Angel-Armies
will throw a feast for all the people of the world,
A feast of the finest foods, a feast with vintage wines,
a feast of seven courses, a feast lavish with gourmet desserts.
And here on this mountain, God will banish
the pall of doom hanging over all peoples,
The shadow of doom darkening all nations.
Yes, he’ll banish death forever.
And God will wipe the tears from every face.
He’ll remove every sign of disgrace
From his people, wherever they are.
Yes! God says so!
Also at that time, people will say,
"Look at what’s happened! This is our God!
We waited for him and he showed up and saved us!
This God, the one we waited for!
Let’s celebrate, sing the joys of his salvation.
God’s hand rests on this mountain!" verses 6-10
This is day four of Advent. I love this reading and I love that it is to be found so early in Advent. This is a favoured reading at funerals as it speaks of an end to death and morning. It speaks of consolation and tenderness. It is a promise from the prophet that God WILL deliver and that deliverance will be profound and powerful. For me it is a foretaste of what living in the “City of God” is all about.
In advent we are reminded to “Get Ready!” Get ready for what? We need to get ready to make room for God to make this commitment real and alive. I believe this to be a declaration about who we should be and not just where we hope to end up someday. What does God want for us? God wants us to feast, to celebrate and be full – but understand that God wants that for ALL of us, not just the more privileged of us. God wants us to put away darkness and gloom – but understand that God wants that for ALL of us not just for those for whom everything seems to go swell. God wants for us to be free from mourning and death, from pain and suffering – but understand that God wants that for ALL of us, not just those of us who have led a charmed life with no real illness or death to speak of. God wants us to be fully immersed in LOVE – and God wants that for ALL OF US!
We have a part to play in all of this. The hungry cry for bread – we should bake. The homeless call for shelter – we should build. The naked need warmth – we should knit. The dying yearn for comfort – we should hold a hand. The lonely are praying for a friend – we should be present. The sick retch and rattle feverishly – we should offer a cool cloth. The marginalized peer in hoping to be welcomed – we should hold the door for their arrival. You see God may be throwing a big feast – but we are the hosts, we are the servers, we are the wine stewards and we are the clean up staff!
We need to ACT. We need to be the agents of change. When we affect change we will see that what the prophet foretold is so true. People will say, “Look at what’s happened! This is our God! We waited for him and he showed up and saved us!” The world has waited and continues to wait. For many people of the earth this reading from Isaiah is very profound and meaningful. Knowing how much it means to me I can only imagine what it means to those who tonight cannot eat. According to www.bread.org, each and every day, 16 000 children die from starvation. Can you imagine living in any of the regions where this is happening and hearing a prophetic message about God delivering people to a place where there will be seven course meals? How about the thousands that die each day in violence and war – imagine living in the midst of that and hearing a prophet declare that the day is coming when there will be no more death, no more mourning or crying. Imagine!
We can make a difference. Tolstoy said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” The people are waiting and God is waiting. What will we do?