Imagine for a moment returning from battle, having risked life and limb, perhaps seen friends maimed or killed, all for the benefit of society. Imagine a lasting peace has been declared as you return home. What do you hope to see as the fruit of your sacrifice and of those who fought in this conflict?
When the people of Judea and Jerusalem were released from captivity in Babylon they returned home to a land that still bore scars from war forty years earlier. Their beloved city ravaged. Their dreams were not instantly fulfilled.
The 65th chapter of Isaiah was written for these people, assuring them of God’s new creation, not a human creation, but a divine restoration to the best of what Eden had promised: No more weeping; No more infant deaths; Living as old as the trees; Living in one’s own house and eating one’s own crops; Enemies living together.
As Christians we are called to live as though God’s new heaven and new earth are forming around us each day. Some may call us hopelessly naïve, even foolish. But doing so should be easy for us who trust that Christ has been resurrected from the dead and that we too shall rise.
Living confident of God’s new heaven and new earth has implications for how we live in the aftermath of this volatile election. Isaiah foretells of the wolf and the lamb eating together. And if we are to live beyond a hundred years and our labor shall not be in vain, then we need to live peaceably with those whom we call wolves and with those whom we treated as lambs. To live in God’s new creation is to reconcile with those whom we have disagreed, perhaps even denigrated or been insulted by.
This Sunday we will conclude our worship service with a ritual of anointing for healing. Those present will be invited to come forward, or merely to watch and sing, as we share a physical reminder of God’s act of reconciliation with us so that we might be reconciled with one another and point to glimpses of God’s new heaven and new earth.
I will have more to say about the 65th chapter of Isaiah on Sunday, November 13th, 2016 at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor