Thursday, December 20, 2012
Reading Isaiah in the Wild West
So our Christmas tree is up; the lights, by sheer chance, are blue. Josh Groban is singing quiet carols in the background. Last night, Santa went by on a firetruck. My neighbors have an obscenely fat, inflated Santa on their lawn (most years I would have a snarky comment about this, but alas...this year, it hardly seems worth the effort).
So, I'm going through the motions, as I imagine many other people are. But I want nothing to do this year with angels, shepherds, babies in mangers. My nativity scene is still packed in a box. Fable me no fables. Reality itself has become too much like a bad dream.
There is some comfort to be had -- the sharing of horror and grief. I have been inspired by the way Americans have come together in the wake of tragedy, to hold Newtown in their hearts. I have a friend, an Episcopal chaplain, who joined a team traveling to Connecticut last weekend to offer what solace can be had. I wish I could do something concrete like that -- more concrete than anti-gun posts on Facebook or petition-signing, though the political will for change is prospectively important for the country.
What I am doing is reading Isaiah 60-61. In the words of the third, post-exilic, Isaiah, I do find hope, despite a realistic acknowledgement that life has become very dark:
60 Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
2 For darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the LORD will arise upon you,
and his glory will appear over you.
3 Nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
61 The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
3 to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, to display his glory.
To bind up the brokenhearted. We already know how to do this. May God give us the grace to do the other needful things a peaceful society requires.