A Devotion for Tuesday, March 24, 2020
Isaiah 42:14-21 (NRSV)
14 For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in labor, I will gasp and pant. 15 I will lay waste mountains and hills, and dry up all their herbage; I will turn the rivers into islands, and dry up the pools. 16 I will lead the blind by a road they do not know, by paths they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I will do, and I will not forsake them. 17 They shall be turned back and utterly put to shame— those who trust in carved images, who say to cast images, “You are our gods.”
18 Listen, you that are deaf; and you that are blind, look up and see! 19 Who is blind but my servant, or deaf like my messenger whom I send? Who is blind like my dedicated one, or blind like the servant of the Lord? 20 He sees many things, but does not observe them; his ears are open, but he does not hear. 21 The Lord was pleased, for the sake of his righteousness, to magnify his teaching and make it glorious.
Thoughts from “The Word in Season”
“For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept still and restrained myself;now I will cry out like a woman in labor, I will gasp and pant. “
Picture an entire people uprooted from their homeland and sent to live in alien territory. Their despair grew as the decades dragged on. This was the plight of the Israelites in the sixth century BCE. They hade abandoned God to worship idols, but they blamed God for abandoning them: “How could we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137:4)
God was there all the time but kept quiet. Finally, God could not take it any longer and relented with the heartbreaking cry in verse 14 (above). This is how much God loves us.
We all fail to love God and our neighbor now and then. We whiz past someone who needs help because we want to get home. We look away when we pass a homeless person because we have other plans for that last five-dollar bill in our wallet. We make our privilege more important than their need. Even so, God will never forsake us. Gods’ steadfast compassion continues on so that we may love others as God loves us.
Prayer: God of grace, keep my heart focused on you. Amen.
Col 1:9-14 (NRSV)
9 For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God.
11 May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
I don’t know if Paul had a corona virus pandemic, and our associated “shelter at home” directive, in mind when he wrote those words, but I’m sure he would say they apply even in this situation. No, we are not in danger of persecution for our faith, but the challenge of being community, of being with and for each other during this time can be a challenge to our faith, even if it isn’t an intentional one directed particularly at people of faith. And in the midst of our current situation, Paul’s encouragement to draw on the strength of God’s power, to joyfully give thanks for the gift and hope of life that has no end, for the gift of God’s forgiveness, as well as God’s promised presence with us in this and every time, encourage us to persevere in faith, trusting that God will see us through.
So I pray for you, even as Paul prayed for the people of Colossae – and others communities he had connections with, that you may be filled with the assurance of God’s grace in Jesus Christ, and continue to “bear fruit in every good work” – however that may happen in these times. Our youth are engaging in a project to write words of encouragement for residents at Senior Star in Davenport. The Food Pantry continues to provide assistance to those in need in our community (in a modified fashion). We can be there for those among us, and our neighbors, as we may be able to be of assistance – perhaps those of us not “at risk” helping those that are with shopping for needed items, or delivering gifts of encouragement, or sending a card or letter or email to offer words of encouragement. And we can pray, pray for each other, pray for our faith community, pray for the larger community in Port Byron and beyond, to the whole world.
May the peace which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and your minds in Jesus Christ our Lord who is our peace and our strength.
“With you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.” – Psalms 36:9 (NRSV)
Blessings & Peace,