by Kristin Berkey-Abbott
The readings for Sunday, December 16, 2012:
optional text: Luke 4:16-21
Today we read the chapter of Isaiah that we'll find echoed throughout the story of Jesus and his ministry. In the optional reading for today, this passage appears as the text that Jesus reads as an adult when he first preaches. He says that the prophecy has been fulfilled. We also hear echoes of the text in the Magnificat that Mary sings when she and Elizabeth visit each other during their pregnancies. We will be hearing this text from the first chapter of Luke this Sunday at Trinity Lutheran.
Unfortunately, the next two thousand years of history show that there's still plenty of work for the people of God to do. The redemption of the world has indeed begun, but in many ways, it's not complete. And much theology tells us that God needs our help.
This chapter of Isaiah tells us what the people of God should be doing. If God had a business plan, we could find it here. If God had a mission statement, we could use one of these verses.
The verbs should not be a surprise to the faithful: bring, proclaim, grant, give. The populations that concern God should be familiar too: the afflicted, the captives, the mourners.
Here, in this chapter, in such inspiring language, once again we hear God's promise: repair of the ruins, new life out of devastation, recompense for wrongs done, and the kind of joys we associate with weddings.
This chapter of Isaiah provides such chapter and hope. For so many people, 2012 has been a difficult year. For so many people, every year is a difficult year. Isaiah tells us that to be human is to suffer. But Isaiah also gives us the promise that God is at work in the world. Isaiah reminds us that even when we can't see God moving amongst us, God is there, binding wounds, knitting brokenness back into new life, and planting seeds in the ruins.