Thursday, December 18, 2008

"hail the Sun of righteousness"

"here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him
and he will bring justice to the nations.
he will not shout or cry out,
or raise his voice in the streets.
a bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
in faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
in his law the islands will put their hope.
this is what God the LORD says—
he who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it,
who gives breath to its people,
and life to those who walk on it:
'I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness;
I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you
to be a covenant for the people
and a light for the Gentiles,
to open eyes that are blind,
to free captives from prison
and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.'"

(isaiah 42.1-7 tniv)

one thing i've noticed this december is that even while we are enjoying the celebrations that accompany this time of year, people seem to have a strong anticipation of the new year and the changes that hopefully accompany a new year. this coming year in particular, with a new president taking the reigns, promises everyone a change from the way things are now. most people seem to think that something magical will happen with a switch of the calendar, and our lives will start to go the way we've always wanted them to go.

i can understand how the people waiting for the Messiah would want to put all their eggs in the basket of the changes they thought he would institute. look at the promises that accompany his arrival: justice established on the earth, freedom for captives and light for those in darkness. who would be more worthy of a high position under God's "justice" than God's own people?

we can see why Jesus didn't fit the mold of their expectations. today we understand how much more Jesus came to do than just set up God's people with power and authority. we cling to words like the ones that speak of his gentleness ("a bruised reed he will not break") and his inclusiveness ("a light for the Gentiles").

in my reading of this passage, i appreciated the idea that justice (and its partner "righteousness") are the opposite of "chaos." here God is speaking of his servant (i believe this is Jesus) who will establish God's justice on earth through his righteousness. this means he is going to restore God's perfect order out of the chaos.

i don't need a new year. my resolutions rarely make it past the first couple weeks. i need a Messiah who can restore order from my chaos. his righteousness can right my wrongs. this is what i need and anticipate this holiday season.

"justice will dwell in the desert
and righteousness live in the fertile field.
the fruit of righteousness will be peace;
the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.
My people will live in peaceful dwelling places,
in secure homes,
in undisturbed places of rest.
though hail flattens the forest
and the city is leveled completely,
how blessed you will be,
sowing your seed by every stream,
and letting your cattle and donkeys range free."
(isaiah 32.16-20 tniv)

for the kids: talk about some of the things they hope will be different in the new year. are there any changes or resolutions that they hope to make? this is a great opportunity to speak to them about how powerless we are to better ourselves on our own power. it is only through the life-changing, life-giving birth, death and resurrection of Christ that anything gets better. for a project, make a sun out of craft foam or felt. with the rising of the sun, and Christ's resurrection, we experience a new day and new life.

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