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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, November 18, 2019  

Today’s Scripture Reading | Isaiah 65:17–25

For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people; no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it, or the cry of distress. No more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days, or an old person who does not live out a lifetime; for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth, and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, or bear children for calamity; for they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord— and their descendants as well. Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox; but the serpent—its food shall be dust! They shall not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, says the Lord. (NRSV)

What a beautiful vision this scripture creates, of a time when past suffering will be truly forgotten and all people will move into a new way of life. In this just and fair new world, everyone will be cared for and live long, abundant lives. No one will be pushed to the edges of society or taken advantage of.

This vision cast by the prophet Isaiah came to the people after they had suffered much. They had been enslaved in Egypt. They had lived under the domination of the Assyrian and Babylonian empires, forced into exile from their homeland. Remember that song “By the waters of Babylon, we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion”?

Isaiah paints a picture that creates longing in human hearts and hope, when we despair, that this world is filled with greed and insensitivity, injustice and violence. We can imagine the new heaven and new earth as a world beyond this world, a description of life after this life. But I think this scripture is also a gift to us in this lifetime, in this world, because it puts vision, longing, and hope into our hearts and minds.

Holding in mind today all that we long for changes what’s possible in our lives. It reminds us of where we are heading, what we are seeking to build in our world. It also reminds us that God is with us on this journey and has a longing for our futures, too. That new heaven and new earth may not be here now, but that’s the destination we’re setting out for.

Creating God, you have a vision of a world of justice, peace, and abundance. Help us to co-create with you as we journey through this life. Fill our hearts and minds with a sense of hope and possibility so that we don’t give up on your dreams for the world. Amen.

Written by Nanette Sawyer, Associate Pastor for Discipleship and Small Group Ministry

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