Going Deeper 12-10-19

The first reading for Advent 3…

Isaiah 35:1-10  1 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus 2 it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God. 3 Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. 4 Say to those who are of a fearful heart, "Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you." 5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; 6 then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; 7 the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes. 8 A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God's people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray. 9 No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there. 10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.


Deserts are almost always barren, dry, seemingly lifeless places.  Before the invention of trains, planes, and automobiles, people typically traveled through deserts, not to them.  And even traveling through the desert was not something to be enthusiastic about.  Who wants to deal with “burning sand… thirsty ground… or the haunt of jackals”?  The desert was fraught with all sorts of perils.


I suppose one might be enthusiastic about such travel when the destination beyond the desert was home.  And that is what Isaiah is speaking about… home.  Isaiah is anticipating a return of those who had been exiled to their homeland.  Even the journey itself will be wonderful.  Isaiah describes a journey through a desert that has been transformed to a place of beauty and life, and it will be a safe place.


This is Isaiah’s message.  In the midst of harsh realities—which people have brought upon themselves—Isaiah speaks of a future filled with hope and beauty.


We have come to understand that this future was ultimately realized with the coming of the Messiah Jesus, who opened the eyes of the blind and the ears to the deaf and the tongues of the mute.  Jesus came to bring the beauty and wonder and security of the Kingdom of God.


“Wait,” we may be inclined to shout, “aren’t we still waiting?  Isn’t this Kingdom still yet to come?  Are we not still faced with wilderness, with danger and brokenness?”  And the answer is both yes and no.  Jesus came to establish the Kingdom, and to bring peace and hope and joy and beauty, which we have received both now and not yet.  Jesus came, Jesus still comes, and Jesus will come again.  The Kingdom is here, and yet we await its completion.  And in the meantime, we both pray and work for its coming in the here and now.


Welcome to Advent!


With You on the Journey,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor
Zion Lutheran Church
Wellington, Colorado

"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."