Greetings and welcome to Corona Sabbath. This is one of the ways the church is endeavoring to offer spiritual support during these challenging days of COVID-19. We appreciate your feedback and suggestions.
We listen to Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11 reminding us of of God’s good news for all people, good news of healing, wholeness, and justice. This good news brings joy. In this Advent season, we seek to rekindle our dreams of joy.
“The Spirit of Exalted Yahweh is upon me,
for Yahweh has anointed me:
God has sent me to bring good news to those who are poor;
to heal broken hearts;
to proclaim release to those held captive
and liberation to those in prison;
to announce a year of favor from Yahweh,
and the day of God’s vindication;
to comfort all who mourn,
to provide for those who grieve in Zion –
to give them a wreath of flowers instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of tears,
a cloak of praise instead of despair.
They will be known as trees of integrity,
planted by Yahweh to display God’s glory.
They will restore the ancient ruins,
and rebuild sites long devastated;
they will repair the ruined cities,
neglected for generations.
‘For I, Yahweh, love justice;
I hate robbery and sin.
So I will faithfully compensate you,
and I will make an everlasting covenant with you.
Your descendants will be renowned among the nations;
and your offspring among the people;
all who see you will acknowledge
that you are a people blessed by Yahweh.’
I will joyfully exult in Yahweh,
who is the joy of my soul!
My God clothed me with a robe of deliverance
and wrapped me in a mantle of justice,
the way a bridegroom puts on a turban
and a bride bedecks herself with jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
and a garden brings its seeds to blossom,
so Exalted Yahweh makes justice sprout,
and praise spring up before all nations.’”
Reflection from Kim
Maybe you are feeling a little less joy this season than you normally would. Well, without the usual parties and activities, without the family gatherings and meals with friends, without the usual church goings on, it may be hard to feel the joy that we normally associate with the Christmas season. Maybe you are missing the concerts and plays and arts events that you associate with this season that bring joy.
Then there are the stunning death tolls posted each day due to covid. That certainly gives pause. And many of us have friends and relatives suffering from covid. So much suffering and grief. And our hearts also go out to those in the healthcare sector who are stressed to their limits responding to this crisis.
Yes, there are the complications of this covid Christmas. And there are other things that may dampen the spirits this season. Maybe you are remembering someone who died at this time of year. Maybe you are thinking about sad memories associated with past Christmases. Maybe economic issues are taking the sparkle out of life for you at this moment. Maybe concern for others who are having difficulties has you down. The shortened days and long nights can subdue the spirit.
In this season of lights we simply may not be feeling merry and bright. But the words of the prophet Isaiah remind us of the deeper significance of this season. The prophet celebrates one who will embody the commitment of God to justice, right relationship, and healing. And as Christians we see the embodiment of that commitment in Jesus. There is a story early in the ministry of Jesus that refers to this very scripture. We are told of Jesus declaring in the synagogue that he has come to bring good news to the poor, to heal broken hearts, to proclaim release to the captives, and liberation to those in prison, and to announce the year of God’s favor. That is a clearing of the slate relating to financial debt.
Jesus comes to bring justice and deliverance and healing. He comes to put things right. To free us from the systems that entrap us and comfort our hurt and pain.
The ministry of Jesus is a witness to the commitment of God to the well-being of humankind. Jesus shows us how to care for each other and the Earth. He shows us how to forgive each other and ourselves. He invites us to relationships that are life giving. Jesus invites us to a world where people are truly valued and not abused or taken for granted or seen as economic inputs that are expendable.
The birth of Jesus is about the birth of a new reality in which everyone and all of Creation is cherished and has the opportunity and resources to flourish.
So, no matter what is dampening our spirits this covid Christmas, may we find joy in the coming of Jesus. May we rejoice in the justice he brings. May we celebrate the new reality that he calls forth and that is continuing to emerge today.
This is a season to remember that God is with us. The God who cares that people are made poor, that people are grieving, that people are in pain. The God who offers comfort, solace, and new life. The birth of Jesus and the holy day of Christmas are to remind us of God’s intention that all lives be filled with joy. May your joy be rekindled this season.
(Click HERE if you wish to see the post containing the video of this text.)