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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Isaiah, MLK and the Dream of a Better World

In a previous post ("Advent and the Rapture") I argued that Christians should approach the season of Advent as calling us to live in the present as if God's future has already arrived. Today's lectionary passage from Isaiah (35:1-10) presents us with a vision of a world worth striving for (from the New International Version):

1 The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, 2 it will burst into bloom;
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the LORD,
the splendor of our God.

3 Strengthen the feeble hands,
steady the knees that give way;
4 say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
he will come to save you.”

5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
6 Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.
7 The burning sand will become a pool,
the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.

8 And a highway will be there;
it will be called the Way of Holiness;
it will be for those who walk on that Way.
The unclean will not journey on it;
wicked fools will not go about on it.
9 No lion will be there,
nor any ravenous beast;
they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
10 and those the LORD has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Will we always be able to live up to this vision? Of course not, but that doesn't mean that collectively we shouldn't try because every once in a while we catch a glimpse of God's Kingdom. Indeed, Coretta Scott King, when asked to reflect on the "March on Washington," which culminated with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream Speech," reportedly remarked: "It was as if the Kingdom of God had arrived, if just for a moment."


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