TUESDAY, DECEMBER 15
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11 (NRSV)
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to spring up before all the nations.
(verses 1-3, 11)
Psalm 126 (NRSV)
When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us,
and we rejoiced.
Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like the watercourses in the Negeb.
May those who sow in tears
reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
carrying their sheaves.
FINDING JOY IN THE PLANTING
After we lost our dad to Parkinson’s Disease, my sister Janet began a yearly fundraising event to help raise awareness of the disease and continue the research to find a cure. We all felt a special blessing as friends and family gathered to walk together, support the cause, and honor our dad. Janet chose to plant seeds of goodness and hope during this sad time in our lives. She radiated a quiet joy in bringing a meaningful purpose to what seemed to be our senseless loss.
This type of joy is described in our readings for today. Both the Isaiah passage and the Psalm speak of planting and growth during trying times.
Isaiah tells us that those who mourn, “will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.” Further on, Isaiah proclaims, “For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.” Despite all hardships, God will bring new life, new joy, and new righteousness, to and through all who have suffered, grieved, or been oppressed.
There is a Chinese proverb which says, The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now. Psalm 126 is included today because it speaks of this. “Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.” When we choose to do the next right thing; when we choose to plant a seed of hope now – even as the tears continue to fall – we are bringing promise and purpose to this moment, as well as a brighter outlook for our future moments. We may plant in sorrow, but we will reap with joy.
This is our reason for Advent joy today. Even as hardships and sorrows remain, even as there is work to do, we can regard each day as an opportunity to plant one seed of faith, hope, love, or kindness. Trusting that today’s tears may lead to tomorrow’s gladness, we begin to mature into those creations of righteousness who display God’s glory.
Our Advent joy is found in the hopeful seed, the loving care, the faithful courage we choose to plant today, as well as the joyful anticipation of the harvest yet to come.
Our reading for Thursday will be 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24.
Bible verses taken from https://www.biblegateway.com/