Monday, December 3, 2018

Isaiah: Prophet, Pastor, and Poet for the Present Moment


Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his teaching  Isaiah 42:1-4

Hope can often be confused or conflated with optimist...or positive/wishful thinking...or looking on the bright side.  Yet, hope is deeper than just nice thoughts.  Often when we say we hope something will happen, we are attempting to express a deep desire.  Hope, like a north star, will guide us in a particular direction and point our toes toward that which we are passionate.  Hope lives inside each of us.

So, what do you hope for?  In your life, your relationships, your community, and the world?  Hope is expansive...always enlarging.  Hope is elusive...won't be confined or contain in what we can control.  Hope stirs, swirls, and sings.

I love the above poem from Isaiah 42.  Remember, these words were probably spoken to people in exile...out on the edge...having been captured by a foreign empire.  Isaiah says God will put God's spirit upon one who causes God's soul to delight.  A spirit...a strength...something deep.  Just like hope.  The spirit will bring about justice for all people.  The way the spirit will do this is not through might makes right...but in keeping with the theme/thread of Isaiah from the beginning...with peaceful means.

Perhaps this is why hope can be so difficult for us to hold onto in such a time as this.  When we are passionate about something, we can cling to it so tightly our knuckles turn white and we leave finger nail marks in our desire.  When we want something to happen, we can pour every ounce of energy and effort.  Nothing crushes what we call, "hope" more than when things don't happen according to our plans and time schedule.  Yet, perhaps hope wants to get out ahead of us.  Hope wants to turn left despite our desire to go right.  And when we prefer our way to the guidance/grounding of the spirit, that is when we, like the Israelites under Moses, wander in the wilderness of life.

We need to name our hopes...but hold them lightly.
We need to notice what is stirring within us...but also nudging us in ways that seem counter intuitive.
We need to let hope sing out to us...especially when our ears are clogged.

May there be more than a trace of grace...and a hearty helping of hope in your life in these dwindling days of December.

Blessings ~~

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