Monday, September 02, 2013

The Challenge Continues, Day 239: Isaiah 61-63; Psalm 45; Hebrews 1

As we have walked this pilgrimage of prophecy with Isaiah, I have been continually moved, provoked, awed and reminded of God's remarkable presence in our history and in our lives. Isaiah's words open up the events of his day, revealing a schema of God's plan of action for both the chastisement and the deliverance of not only Israel but of all the nations of the world. Along the way, and for lack of a better word, God becomes both eminently and imminently relevant to us all in the here and now. Isaiah's visions are specific to a time and place (a pre-, present- and post-exile Judah/Israel), provide context to the events of the Gospel in the New Testament and offer some profound pastoral consolations to the Church of today.

The imagery of the prophet captures me today and renders me more open to the tougher words of the psalm and the opening opacity of the letter to the Hebrews. As God approaches, dread and desire are kindles in our guts. We yearn for the Almighty, the justice of God, the deliverance of the author of life, covenant and everything else we know in this existence. We also dread the arrival of the absolute truth of God, the judgment, the reckoning.

The consolation of us all is the testimony that God is arriving not to rend and destroy (at least not forever). God is coming to life up, to elevate, to restore. After having been brought low, the people of God (us and all else) are now going to experience ascendancy. Israel/Judah hears this promise as they prepare for a return from exile. The people around Jesus hear it as self-reference when reading from that scroll he says, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your presence." The author of the letter to the Hebrews is basing the core foundation of that work on the assumption (literally) that is Jesus the Christ is the Son of God and in him we are raised....then in that resurrection we, too, will be lifted up into God's Presence as well. Even the angels of God will bow to the Church triumphant.

That is some heady stuff. Enough to make your head spin...but woven throughout the text is a quiet reminder that all of this is not-quite-yet. Even as we await, and wait upon, God we have an ongoing work to take part in. Our call, and task, is to live faithfully into the promise of God's arrival, the assurance of our restoration and the labor of becoming the people God has always intended for us to be.

In other words, don't just wait around for God to show up and ring in the kingdom. Get to work. Roll up your sleeves. Seize the vision and start working toward it...we are not just to receive these gifts of new life. We are to offer them up to the whole world.

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