Jews and Christians have this in common: Both await a glorious future with the coming of God’s Messiah. In Psalm 35 we get the good news that when that Messiah comes and establishes God’s kingdom here on earth, it will be a time of celebration with songs of joy and gladness. Jesus likens his coming kingdom to a wedding celebration. (See Matthew 22:2-13.) When someone asks us what time it will be in this glorious future we’ll shout back, “It’s Party Time!”
Then all things will be as they should be. Environmentalists will be thrilled because the earth will be restored to what God willed for it to be when God created it. The desert will be watered and grass and flowers will blossom where once only desolation pervaded the land. The blind will gain sight. The deaf will hear. Persons once deemed unfit for Temple worship will be welcomed into the house of the Lord. The highway going to the Holy City will be safe, and we won’t have to worry about foolish people who aren’t always cautious of dangers when traveling.
We are not to be passive while waiting for this glorious future. God calls us to participate in making all things as they should be. All of creation waits for us to become co-laborers together with God as ecological activists and as God’s agents to eliminate poverty, racism, sexism, and Islamophobia in making the highway to the new Jerusalem safe. Evangelism will not be confined to getting people ready for the next world but will emphasize recruiting people to join God’s revolution in the here and now.
Lord, make us into joyous heralds and participants of the glorious future that you are creating. Amen.
Isaiah anticipates a future time of total restoration. The desert will bloom, the blind will see, the lame will walk, and the people will return to Jerusalem with joy. Since ancient times, some have understood this as a description of the age of the Messiah. Luke records the song of Mary. After Elizabeth blesses her and her unborn child, Mary praises God for God’s strength, mercy, and generosity. In the epistle, James encourages his audience to be patient as they await the second coming of the Lord. In the same way, we wait for the birth of the Messiah during Advent. An uncertain John the Baptist sends a message to Jesus to ask if he is the promised Messiah. Jesus responds by affirming that he fulfills the messianic expectations in the prophets.
Read Isaiah 35:1-10. When has scripture strengthened you through personal or societal crises?
Read Luke 1:47-55. Those with power interpret scripture differently than those who are oppressed. How can you make room for perspectives other than your own as you interpret scripture?
Read James 5:7-10. When have you had to endure frustration with patience? How have you been strengthened by these experiences?
Read Matthew 11:2-11. What does it mean to you to be greater than John the Baptist?
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