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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, November 22, 2019  

Today’s Scripture Reading | Isaiah 12              

You will say in that day:
 I will give thanks to you, O Lord,
   for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
   and you comforted me.

Surely God is my salvation;
   I will trust, and will not be afraid,
for the Lord God is my strength and my might;
   he has become my salvation.

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day:
Give thanks to the Lord,
call on his name;
make known his deeds among the nations;
proclaim that his name is exalted.

Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
let this be known in all the earth.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel. (NRSV)

In chapter 11 of Isaiah, just before our passage for today, phrases more familiar to us appear. “The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid . . . for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:6–9).

 Those words helped me understand what Isaiah means in today’s verses when he references how things will be “in that day.” In that day, according to Isaiah, we will give thanks to the Lord. And in that day, when peace is the norm and all know the name of the Lord, we will make known God’s deeds among the nations.

I often wonder when that day will come. As a baby boomer I remember the hope and energy of the ’60s, the firm belief that my generation was “on to something” and would change the way the world worked. Protests against the war in Vietnam. College campus sit-ins. Martin Luther King Jr. So many of us thought we would live to see that day. And yet that day hasn’t come to pass. It can be discouraging.

Isaiah, like the other prophets, kept calling the people to get their act together, to worship authentically, to acknowledge the blessings of God and at the same time to acknowledge the suffering of the world. And to do something about it. Not just on high holy days. Not just in church.

I believe it’s pretty normal to feel discouragement about the state of the world. In churchy language, we call it lament. But I also know we can’t stay there. Leonard Cohen, perhaps a present-day prophet, says it this way: “Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” I know I must keep hoping for that day. And I must keep looking for the glimpses of light that seep into each day.

God of all history, open my eyes to the glimpses of light seeping into places of despair and suffering, injustice and conflict. Help me continue to keep offering what I can to a world so in need. Most of all, help me keep giving thanks. Amen.

Written by Judith L. Watt, Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care

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