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Posts Tagged ‘Book of Consolation’


Isaiah 61: Prophecy Fulfilled

Monday, June 6, 2016jesus reads isaiah

The opening words of this chapter are the ones that Jesus stands to read in his hometown synagogue (Luke 4: 16-21). He follows this reading with the announcement that the words are fulfilled for them that day. Tension builds as those present question Jesus and realize that he is, indeed, saying that he is the Messiah, and that they have not listened to him or to God. A riot results and the congregation hauls him off to the edge of the cliff to hurl him over; but in the melee Jesus slips away.

These are such troubling words. These are such comforting words. Why are the people so angry? Why does the congregation reject good news? Why does Jesus’ audience refuse to allow the healing of broken hearts, anxiety and worry? When we pause to reflect, we realize that we too frequently do as this crowd does in Luke 4. We also reject the beautiful good news that Isaiah brings to us.

Envy is a powerful force. Those who would hurl the Messiah from the cliff forget that God alone saves, God alone heals, and God alone brings true freedom from all that holds us down. The crowd was thinking – in the same pride-filled way that we also might think – that they alone were responsible for all good things in their lives. They did not want to believe that they were not Yahweh’s faithful who followed The Mosaic Law to the letter. And they did not want to be challenged about their conduct, nor did they want anyone to discover the corruption of the system they had established.

As we read the words of Isaiah’s Chapter 61, in this “Book of Consolation,” we are filled with the knowledge that through perseverance and pain, good things do happen. Each day my children and grandchildren, my students, friends, colleagues, and even strangers bring God to me. I am healed by their prayer, their action, their connection with me in and through Christ.

And all God asks in return is that we take the suffering we have experienced and transform ourselves so that we too may in turn heal and cure. God asks that we also bring hope to the afflicted. Isaiah reminds us that we are all anointed. We are all called. We only need to reply to God’s call in word and deed.

Adapted from a reflection written on February 27, 2007.

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Isaiah 40: Beyond Self

Michaelangelo: The Creation of Adam

Michaelangelo: The Creation of Adam – detail

Friday, August 21, 2015

Isaiah again today, and it is the chapter which begins the second half of the prophecy – often referred to as the Book of Consolation.  The words remind us also of chapters 38 through 42 of Job when God speaks to his loyal yet questioning servant.

Like Job, we also may have questions for the creator of the universe, questions about his plan for us, his plan for others, questions about how God expects so many diverse elements can possibly come together in peaceful union.  Today’s citation tells us that we need not fret about how God’s plan will be accomplished.  It tells us that if we place our hope in God, all that is inscrutable will be made plain to us.  Isaiah asks:  Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  Was it not foretold you form the beginning?  Have you not understood? 

Our spirit is captured in human vessels, struggling to break free, to soar above the ugly parts of this life; and yet in all of our struggle for release we forget that we have already been ransomed, as we spent time reflecting yesterday.  Do you not know or have you not heard?  The Lord is the eternal God, creator of the ends of the earth.  Today’s words are a reminder that we are not meant to struggle alone.

When we present to God daily our list of petitions that beg for miracles . . . God does not faint or grow weary.

When we are confounded by the duplicity and complexity if darkness . . . God’s knowledge is beyond scrutiny.

In all of our turmoil, all of our tears, all of our anxiety . . . God gives strength to the fainting.

In the darkest hours, in the deepest mourning, in the depths of despair . . . God makes vigor abound.

Wherever we are wrung out, exhausted, at wit’s end, beyond recovery and when we stagger and fall, they that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles’ wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint. 

There is always joy beyond our imaginings.  There is always strength beyond our human power.  This is what makes us divine . . . in that we acknowledge this divinity . . . and allow ourselves to be drawn to it.  Once we step out of self, empty self, and allow God in . . . then we too have knowledge beyond scrutiny, strength beyond fainting, and joy beyond tears.

A Favorite from July 3, 2009.

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