“Christ invests himself organically in all creation, within all creation, immersing himself in things, in the heart of matter, and thus unifying the world” -Ilia Delio
December 11, 2022
“Reflecting the Sacred”
Isaiah 35: 1-10; Luke 1: 46b-55
Rev. Dr. Heather W. McColl
Isaiah 35: 1-10
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus 2 it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and shouting. 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.]][a] 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 shall be opened; 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.
Luke 1: 46b-55
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowly state of his servant. Surely from now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name; indeed, his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty. He has come to the aid of his child Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
Sacred Space Isaiah 35:1-10;Luke 1:46b-55
We are three Sundays into our Advent seasons. We are almost to Bethlehem but not quite. We are almost to the fulfilled promise of the Christ child but not quite. On this third Sunday of Advent, we are almost there but not quite. It is an odd sort of Sunday as we catch a glimpse of the celebration which awaits us in Bethlehem. But we know we still have a ways to go before we reach the stable. Today is an odd sort of Sunday which includes an odd sort of tradition, which is a call to rejoice in the darkness by lighting a pink candle!
For the last couple of weeks, it’s been purple. One purple, two purple and now, purple, purple, pink! That pink candle throws off the rotation. It breaks up the routine. It’s out of place. Now I’m going to let everyone in on a secret, a secret to help us, okay me, with our need to control all the details, to have everything perfect. It doesn’t work that way when it comes to the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God defies our logic. It defies our expectations. It shows up in unexpected ways, reminding who we are, reminding whose we are. The Kingdom of God shows up, reminding us God is God and we are not. It invites us to reflect God’s justice in the spaces we inhabit…our homes, our places of work, our communities. It invites us to reflect God’s joy by furthering gladness in the world in surprising and life giving ways.
What I mean by this is …this crazy odd pink candle is God’s way of reminding us just how desperately we need this odd sort of Sunday. As people of faith, as we continue to face this hurt and broken world, as we continue to try to be the heart and hands of God here on Earth, we need ways for the Kingdom of God to break through the darkness, to break through the wilderness, to break through our everyday routine. We need ways for the Kingdom of God to find us, to remind us of our call to celebrate now, to celebrate this day, to celebrate the ever-abiding presence of God in our midst.
As people of faith, in light of all that weighs heavy on our heart this season, we need to hear again, that no matter how dark it may be, there will always be joy in our hearts. There will always be a reason to celebrate because we know our God, our God who has never ever left us, our God who is faithful from generation to generation, our God who will turn our sorrow into dancing.
Even though our Advent journey is not complete, these words of joy from Isaiah, these words of song from Mary are exactly what we need right now. They remind us that even when it seems like the darkness is closing in, even when it seems like we don’t have the strength to carry on, we know that God is with us. We know that God is at work in this world. We know that the Kingdom of God is here, ready to break in and shake us up, ready to wake us up to the hope, to the peace, to the very joy which has been promised us by our God since the beginning of time. Just like these words did for the people of God all those years ago.
You see, Isaiah’s words, Mary’s words are words of faith. They reflect a faith which is grounded in the presence of God in the promises of God. They reflect a faith which has seen God turn the impossible possible. They reflect a faith which has seen God bring God’s people out of Egypt, faith which has experienced the awe-inspiring love of God. They reflect a faith which knows, no matter what, the people’s sorrow will be turned into dancing. Isaiah’s words, Mary’s words remind us that God is moving in and among the people, that God is moving in and among the ordinary spaces of our lives transforming them into sacred spaces where we can and do encounter the Divine in our midst.
Isaiah’s words were offered to his people during a time of great despair and grief, Mary’s song is shared after she had received the life changing news that she would bring forth a son who would bring down the oppressive systems of the world. Isaiah’s words, Mary’s song issue a call to us as people of faith… a call to join in with all of creation as it rejoices, a call to open our hearts and eyes to the new life which is breaking forth among us. Isaiah’s words, Mary’s song remind us that as people of faith th our God did not wait to come until the world was ready. Our God did not wait until humankind and nations were at peace. God came when the need was great, just like God does for us, for all of creation, each and every day, breaking in, and reminding us that the light of hope, the light of love will never ever be overcome by the darkness. Isaiah’s words, Mary’s song remind us that dawn will follow even the longest night.
People of God, the very words of our faith reflect the life transforming news that grief and sorrow will not be how the story ends. Today and all days, we sing with joy. We join with all creation as we celebrate because we have seen the stone rolled away. We have seen the empty tomb. We have experienced the gift of new life when everyone else said there was no hope.
As the people of God, we know that our God is moving in and among us, transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary. We know that the spaces in which we inhabit, our homes, our places of work, our communities, our churches, they are sacred spaces, spaces where we are called to reflect God’s justice, to reflect God’s love, to reflect God’s joy.
As the people of God, we know that ourGod is still at work in our world, bringing healing and wholeness. We know that our God is making all things new. We know that soon our sorrow will be turned into dancing. May it be so.
See also: Theology Tuesday for Sunday, December 11, 2022 – Sacred Space Isaiah 35:1-10;Luke 1:46b-55