By Rev. Elizabeth McColl
Daily Lectionary reading: Psalm 42; Isaiah 29:17-24; Acts 5:12-16
Selected passage for reflection: Isaiah 29: 17-24
Isaiah 29:17-24 New Living Translation
17 Soon—and it will not be very long—the forests of Lebanon will become a fertile field, and the fertile field will yield bountiful crops. 18 In that day the deaf will hear words read from a book, and the blind will see through the gloom and darkness. 19 The humble will be filled with fresh joy from the Lord.The poor will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. 20 The scoffer will be gone, the arrogant will disappear, and those who plot evil will be killed. 21 Those who convict the innocent by their false testimony will disappear.A similar fate awaits those who use trickery to pervert justice and who tell lies to destroy the innocent. 22 That is why the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, says to the people of Israel, “My people will no longer be ashamed or turn pale with fear. 23 For when they see their many children and all the blessings I have given them, they will recognize the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob. They will stand in awe of the God of Israel. 24 Then the wayward will gain understanding, and complainers will accept instruction.
When asked to write about one of the scripture passages for this day, I chose this one because of the first few words in verse 17: “...soon, and it will not be very long…” I wonder how many of us have heard or read words similar to these, and thought, how soon is, “soon?” The prophet, Isaish, says these things will come to pass, but how soon? Or is that what matters? There have been so many challenges for most of us, especially in the past few years. And now, in this time, with global calamities of war and climate crises, poverty and deprivation, and neighborhoods in chaos with escalating cost of living struggles and food banks resources taking care of people who would never have thought they would have need of one, where are the possibilities of fertile fields?
And yet, here we are; another Advent. Another reminder to hope even in the darkness, to remember even in the gloomiest of places, the universal Christ is in our midst. In the human who sits next to us on the train to work, in the small act of kindness seen being done so gently, in the friend who sends us a thoughtful message in the midst of a scrambled day, in the last of the autumn flowers composting into next year’s growth. There are many “fertile” fields even in the midst of a seemingly despairing world. Maybe at this time of year, when the days are so short, they are harder to find, but they are there. Perhaps we need to take a longer look at what at first seems lost or not coming soon enough.
As I was writing this, the words of an old hymn kept circling in my mind.
“For lo! the days are hastening on,
by prophet seen of old,
when with the ever-circling years
shall come the time foretold
when peace shall over all the earth
its ancient splendors fling,
and the whole world send back the song
which now the angels sing.”
What blessings do you see on this day? There will come a time when peace shall be over all the earth. Can we even think that time might be soon? Can you see something of the universal Christ in everything, especially in those things which seem so far from what they ought to be?
God, grant us peace in this one day, this day we call “today.” We are all too aware of each day’s passing and we sometimes long for time to slow down so we can catch our breath and know you are in our midst. Even in darkness; even in gloom, even when it seems soon is not soon enough. And whatever our day brings, may we be able to stand in awe of you, the Holy One of Israel.
About the Author
Rev. Elizabeth McColl is an ordained minister and a professional musician, currently residing in Edinburgh, Scotland, the city to which she returned after studying and working in the USA.