Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Week Two, Day 1

Week Two: Expecting the Hope of the Earth

Hymn for the Week: Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

Come, thou long-expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.

Israel's strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art:
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver,
born a child, and yet a king,
born to reign in us for ever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.

By thine own eternal Spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all-sufficient merit
raise us to thy glorious throne.

Psalm for the Week: Psalm 85

Day 1: Isaiah 35:10-10 & Isaiah 40:1-11
Both of these passages contain visions of creation being transformed by God, whether it be streams bursting forth in the desert or the blind seeing or rough places being made smooth. I was struck by the vision of the high places being brought low and the low places being lifted up. I'll admit that I'm not so sure I want to see that come to pass. Now, I'm a mid-western boy, so there's something comforting and heart-warming about being able to see the horizon in every direction. I love the look of rolling fields with silos, houses, churches, and various other buildings dotting the landscape. There's a stretch of road in southern part of Illinois on I-57 that takes me to a place of awe everytime I drive through it. But, I'm also a fan of the mountains. There are stretches of I-40 on the way to Montreat, NC from Nashville when one is completely surrounded by mountains, and I feel somehow safe in those places. I'm often reminded of Psalm 139:5: You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. I somehow feel hemmed in by God in those places. I'm not so sure I want everything leveled out into a smooth plain.

With a little nudging from the devotional guide, I was also drawn to the images of fresh water being poured out on parched lands (and people). I have certainly had my dry spells in life, and it seems like each time, God finds different ways to bring water and life into my dry wilderness. Sometimes it's a song that randomly shuffles onto my ipod at just the right moment. Sometimes it's friends who simply sit in the dust with me, and slowly let me sip from their living wells. Sometimes it's the people in the congregation who I'm supposed to be pastoring who end up giving me pastoral care...whether it be a sandwich and a pickle, or cauliflower and bean salad and tea sweetened with sugar and a lemon, or a round of golf, these people have been living water for me.