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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, December 11, 2019  

Today’s Scripture Reading | Isaiah 35:1–10

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
    the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
    and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
    the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
    the majesty of our God.

Strengthen the weak hands,
    and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
     “Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
    He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
    He will come and save you.”

Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
    and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
    and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
    and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
    and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
    the grass shall become reeds and rushes.

A highway shall be there,
    and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the unclean shall not travel on it,
    but it shall be for God’s people;
    no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.
No lion shall be there,
    nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
    but the redeemed shall walk there.
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
    and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
    they shall obtain joy and gladness,
    and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. (NRSV)

In Managing Transitions, William Bridges claims that “change” and “transition” are different. Change is an external event. Transition is the psychological process we experience as we internally come to terms with the new situation that the change brings about.

I’ve been living that reality as I prepare for retirement from ordained ministry and leave this community of faith. Encouragement from many of you has been positive. “You’ll love it.” “You are doing the right thing.” Those comments give me hope as I navigate “coming to terms” with the impending change.

The words from Isaiah are proclaimed as hope, too. The Babylonian exile forced God’s people to live between the two extremes of hope and despair. They were forced to let go of life as it had been and live for a long time in an in-between stage, waiting for their God to come and for the future God had promised.

Isaiah’s words announce a hope far beyond our individual hopes for life after any of the transitions of life. They proclaim a world fully transformed after the radical in-breaking of God into every human heart. A highway that is smooth sailing and everlasting joy upon our heads.

Sometimes the future Isaiah proclaims seems as though it will never arrive. We may never see the world transformed fully in the way Isaiah describes. But Isaiah also instructs, “Strengthen the weak hands and make firm your feeble knees. Say to those who are of a fearful heart, ‘Be strong and do not fear! Here is your God.’”

In so many ways, the people of Fourth Presbyterian Church continually proclaim “Here is your God.” Those weak hands and feeble knees are stronger than you think. Thanks be to God for all of you.

Gracious God, strengthen our weak hands and make firm our feeble knees so that we can see and proclaim that you are here—if only in part—and will one day come fully into all human hearts. Amen.

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

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