These two verses serve as a crescendo to the verses of Isaiah we have examined earlier this week. Isaiah 61 tells of God’s mighty work among the people and the justice that has come at the hand of the Lord. It recounts how the Lord breaks the chains of oppression and suffering that so often hold us down and keep us disconnected from God.
Isaiah’s words swell and expand our understanding of God’s vision for the new creation that we know will come when Jesus walks among us. We look back with excitement and forward with anticipation for the coming of the Lord.
Then Isaiah’s words begin to crash in on us and ring out with joy about the coming of the Lord and the victory that God has given us as God’s people. We are the bride. Despite all that humanity has suffered and all the pain that God’s people have been through, we are loved. God sees us as the beautiful creation that God has always intended for us to be.
While things may be difficult, we can look forward with joy and anticipation because we know that God’s presence and God’s will have overtaken the forces of evil and pain. “The Lord God will grow righteousness and praise before all the nations” (ceb).
The ecstasy of Isaiah’s words reminds us that we are waiting for a singular moment in the history of the world. God, the one who created the universe and imbued it with life, is coming to us. God, who understands and has power over all things, cares for us. In this passage, all of that is bundled together and crashes over us in waves. God is coming.
Lord God, our words cannot express the joy we feel in our hearts. Listen to our hearts, speak to our souls, and help us embrace the love and joy you so freely offer us. Amen.
Isaiah speaks of the day in which God’s Anointed One (Messiah) will bring good news to the poor and hope to the oppressed. Jesus will later read this passage and declare it to be about himself (Luke 4), so we read Isaiah’s prophecy during Advent. The psalmist rejoices that God has restored the fortunes of the people. They have come through a period of difficulty, but God has brought them into a place of joy. Throughout Advent, we also look forward to such rejoicing. Paul encourages the Thessalonians to pray continually with an attitude of gratitude and rejoicing, and the God of peace will sustain them. In the Gospel reading, John the Baptist repeats the theme from last week—that he is merely the messenger to prepare the way for the Lord.
Read Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11. God is coming. How do Isaiah’s words of praise and justice inspire you to act in response?
Read Psalm 126. How do you celebrate the justice that you have seen come to fruition while hoping for future justice? How does your anticipation of the fullness of justice affect your faith?
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24. How can you return to the basics of faith during this Advent season?
Read John 1:6-8, 19-28. How is this Advent season both familiar and new for you? How might simple announcements of Jesus’ coming change your experience of the season?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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