Begin today’s meditation time by rereading Isaiah 12:2-6. This passage contains a multitude of words and phrases we can take to heart. Choose the one that is most meaningful for you this day, and repeat it to yourself throughout the day. Take inspiration from this prophet’s words, uttered so many years ago! My choice today is this: “Give thanks to the Lord.”
Despite Israel’s waywardness, God bestows mercy. Isaiah urges his hearers to give thanks and proclaim God’s name everywhere. His words encourage the people to make God’s name known among the nations “on that day,” pointing toward a day of salvation and rejoicing. The prophet’s verbs are plural here—he speaks to the whole community. Indeed, proclaiming God’s name everywhere is a common practice when the community worships together.
In yesterday’s meditation I mentioned that I am a cancer survivor. My diagnosis was a number of years ago, but I still see my oncologist at the end of every year. So technically, I am still in remission. Each visit to the oncology center fills me with empathy and gratitude. After seeing my doctor, as I leave the clinic I pass the infusion room. My practice is to go to the door, look inside, and say a breath prayer that expresses both my gratitude for good health and my hopes for similar outcomes for those inside.
Giving thanks and proclaiming God‘s greatness everywhere in response to divine presence in our lives is a life lesson we can practice as we “shout aloud and sing for joy.”
Gracious God, help me remember to express my gratitude to you and to use my life to proclaim your name to others. Amen.
As I reviewed the scripture passages for this week, a hymn titled “Rejoice, Give Thanks and Sing” kept going through my mind. The writers of this week’s texts advise us to do all these things. At this time of year, these responses often seem to come naturally for many of us. The prophet Zephaniah exhorts his audience to sing aloud and rejoice. The prophet Isaiah calls on the people of Judah to “give thanks to the Lord.” In the letter to the Philippians, Paul advises his audience to “rejoice in the Lord always.” The tone of the Luke passage for this week is more somber; through the words of John the Baptist, Luke challenges his audience to maintain right relationships with God and humanity. Taken together, these passages provide a number of life lessons.
• Read Isaiah 12:2-6. Think about the times of uncertainty in your life. What did you fear? Who or what gave you comfort during these times?
• Read Zephaniah 3:14-20. When have you found joy in the midst of trouble? Think back on that time in your life, and give thanks for God’s presence.
• Read Luke 3:7-18. Where in your life are you being nudged to do the right thing? How will you respond?
• Read Philippians 4:4-7. At what times is God most present in your life? When do you find yourself searching for God?
Respond by posting a prayer.
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