This week we take up the theme of Joy (to follow last week’s ‘Peace’ and the previous week’s ‘Hope’).
The history of the people of Israel (the Jews) is, and always has been, built on God’s promise of a homeland for the faithful people. Often, images of blooming and abundant lands were invoked by Israel’s great prophets as they looked forward to a better future… when they wouldn’t be strangers in a strange land, but home safe and sound.
One such image comes from the prophet Isaiah. This prophet lived centuries before the coming of Jesus, but many of his prophecies predicted Jesus’ coming. In fact, we read a lot of Isaiah in the church during this time of year because of it’s relevance to Christmas: Isaiah 35:1-2:
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing.
All of us build our lives on dreams for the future… what we want our life, our family, our career, our health, or our faith to be. Similarly, God invites all of us to build our lives on God’s promises of love, peace, hope, and grace. Through these promises we can see a future for us that is better than today… a time in which we don’t feel like strangers in a strange land… but at home in our lives and world, safe and sound.
We may be in ‘desert’ circumstances right now in life. No matter where we look or where we go or what we try to accomplish… there is just barrenness and bleakness. But, the JOY of this season, indeed the joy of faith, is that we can count on God to work in and through our dry and dusty circumstances to bring blooming and blossoming abundance.