If we consider today’s reading in its original context, we recognize a portrait of a people yearning for righteousness and receiving God’s response to that yearning. The first Israelites to hear today’s passage ache for righteousness. They have returned from captivity in Babylon filled with joy, but their homeland lies desolate. As they labor to restore it, overlords seize the fruit of their harvests and leave them barely enough for survival. This situation drags on. Even God seems distant. Suddenly the prophet moves among them speaking words of joy. This is no naive joy. The prophet does not claim all is well, but he notes that God is beginning to break out garments of righteousness. God will cause righteousness to spring up even more. One day this righteousness will shine before all the nations. The prophet’s listeners take hope.
In our era we too yearn for righteousness. For some of us this yearning comes as we see the increasing chasm between those with more than enough of the world’s abundance and those straining for a crust of bread. Or it comes as we watch fear turn away mounting tides of refugees. For some of us, the yearning surges as unfairness pervades our workplace or hurts someone we love or smothers a cherished dream of our own. We too find ourselves portraits of persons who yearn for righteousness and seek God’s response.
The prophet’s words speak to us with greater clarity than they did to those first hearing them. We know his words fit perfectly the manger-born bearer of righteousness whose life forever proclaims good news to the oppressed and liberty to the captives. The way forward won’t be easy. The way of justice never is, but we know that in Jesus we receive the gift of one who will lead us every step of the way.
Loving One, grant us wisdom and courage to live for the righteousness you bring. Amen.
As we celebrate the birth of our Savior, we do so with cries of praise to God. Isaiah delights and rejoices in God, who will bring reconciliation to all nations. Psalm 148 declares that all of creation praises the Lord, for creation knows who formed and sustains it. Paul explains to the Galatians that God sent Jesus to redeem us, and as a result we may now call out to God as God’s children. In the Gospel reading, Luke sets the story of Jesus within the history of the Israelites. Both Simeon and Anna are devout people, filled with the Holy Spirit. They have been praying for God to send the Redeemer, and God gives them insight to recognize him as Jesus. Praise be to God for this indescribable gift!
Read Isaiah 61:10–62:3. How do you yearn for righteousness? How do the prophet’s words give you hope?
Read Psalm 148. Pause and consider the joy of God’s coming salvation for the whole world.
Read Galatians 4:4-7. Consider your identity as a child of God through Christ. What joy does this identity bring you?
Read Luke 2:22-40. How can you, like Anna, joyously proclaim the freedom and redemption Christ brings all of humanity?
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