Lectionary Passage: Isaiah 61: 1-4, (8-11)
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion— to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory. They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations.
The passage is familiar. It is the very picture of hope. Standing in the midst of ruins, the prophet (probably someone other than Isaiah at this later writing) foretells the perfect reign of God, the time when all Creation will be renewed and recreated. This anointed one is the hope for the future. This is the one for whom we’ve been waiting.
But in verse 3 all of a sudden the pronoun changes. The prophet has proclaimed the year of the Lord’s favor and then “me” becomes “they”. Who are “they”? They, my friends, are us–all of us, those who have been anointed to bring righteousness, to build up, to raise up in the name of the Lord. The city–all of it–all of Creation will burst forth from devastation. It turns out that this prophet was not called to fix things but to proclaim that all are called to this holy work.
All of us are part of what the Lord has planted and nourished and grown to bloom. All of us are “they”. We are the ones that are called to become the new shoots sprouting to life. We are the ones that are called to bring good news, to bind up, to proclaim liberty, to bring justice, to witness, and to comfort. This Scripture may sound vaguely familiar to us for another reason. In the fourth chapter of the Gospel According to the writer known as Luke, Jesus stands in the synagogue in his home temple in the midst of a world smarting with Roman occupation and cites these same words. He acknowledges his own calling, he is commissioned to this work. And he sets forth an agenda using the words of this prophet. So, here we are reminded once again. We are reminded what we as the people of Christ are called to do–to bring good news, to bind up, to proclaim liberty, to bring justice, to witness, to comfort, and to build the Kingdom of God, to be the very image, the very reflection of Christ in the world.
In this Season of Advent, we look for the coming of God into this world. We look toward the fullness of God’s Kingdom. We wait and we wait for the world to come to be. But when we start beginning to look for someone to fix what is wrong in the meantime, we are reminded that we are they. We are the ones for which we’ve been waiting. We are the ones that while waiting with hopeful anticipation, we are called to spend our time bringing good news, binding up, proclaiming liberty, bringing justice, witnessing, comforting, and building the Kingdom of God. Maybe that’s why we were called to wait in the first place–to reexamine our own lives, to find the “we” that God created. God did not come into this world to fix the world; God came into our midst to show us who we are called to be, to lead us to Life. We are the ones. When it’s all said and done, God’s Kingdom will come to be when we become who we are called to be. If God really wanted to “fix” the world, don’t you think it would be done? God doesn’t want to fix us; God’s desire is that we live. All of this waiting?…we are the ones for which we’ve been waiting! It is our life for which we are preparing.
You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour. Now you must go back and tell the people that this is The Hour. And there are things to be considered: Where are you living? What are you doing? What are your relationships? Are you in right relation? Where is your water? Know your garden. It is time to speak your Truth. Create your community. Be good to each other. And do not look outside yourself for the leader. This could be a good time!
There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart, and they will suffer greatly. Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water. See who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally. Least of all, ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.
The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves! Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. (The Elders Oraibi, Arizona Hopi Nation)
FOR TODAY: For what are you waiting? What do you have to do to become the one for whom you’ve been waiting?
Grace and Peace,