Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Isaiah Prophet, Poet, and Pastor for the Present Moment
Isaiah was the prophet, poet, and pastor before, during and after exile.
Exile is that time of fear lodged in the back of your throat and anxiety hovering/hanging in the air.
Exile is that time the person you frustrates you winning elected office or getting the promotion at work or posting on Facebook the vacation you've always wanted to take.
Exile is that moment you are pushed to the fringes - feel lost and left behind.
We don't have to live in the time of Isaiah to know Exile...we know Exile in our own lives...we have lived in Babylon even if we never had mail delivered to us there. We have been to Babylon even though it no longer really exists on a map. We know Isaiah because his story is found in our stories.
During Exile, Isaiah starts with a word of comfort/care/compassion. But in verse 6 of chapter 40, we get this great dialogue -
A voice says, “Cry out!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All people are grass,
their constancy is like the flower of the field.
When the voices says cry out...Isaiah answers, "What can I say?" Or you could translate this, "Why bother?" Why bother when we are so divided? Why bother when people hurt and harm us so much? Why bother because life is so fleeting and fading and fragile? Isaiah names that life can feel like grass that hasn't felt the renewing and refreshing rain...or a vase of forgotten flowers two weeks old.
Comfort, cry out with compassion, even when it feels like our efforts cannot stop the tide. Comfort and compassion even when our words feel like we are trying to make dried up, brown grass green again. Comfort and compassion in moments we would rather be cynical. That is not easy. I would have preferred Isaiah said, "Let's just all get that carton of Ben and Jerry's out of the freezer and binge watch Netflix." But that isn't want he says. Keep involved...keep showing up...keep staying open. Day by day...not because it is the easy path...but because it is along this rocky/rough/hilly/valley road we meet God most often.
Who do you long to call out to with comfort and compassion?
Who do you wonder if it will make any difference?
Who can walk with you through this giving you comfort and care and compassion?
May the insights to those questions give you more than a trace of God's grace.