And the Glory of the Lord Will Be Revealed

And the Glory of the Lord Will Be Revealed

Summer of 2018 has been miserable.

There have been no morning coffees on the deck, no pleasant afternoon walks, no evenings gazing up at the stars. At least, not since about June-something. The reason? It’s always either 100 degrees, or raining, or both. It’s the most awful summer I can remember.

And that’s just the weather.

Without going into detail about everything else, suffice it to say that I’ve been angry, sad, overwhelmed, worn down, and just so, so, so done. I’m done.

It’s been a long, dark summer.

And where there is darkness, we crave the Light.

Light dispels the darkness. Darkness is despair. Light brings hope.

Jesus is the Light.

When Christ comes, he destroys the darkness. He is Light. He is Hope. He is Love. Justice. Mercy. Life.

This morning, my usual routine of opening the bible to a random page, it fell on Isaiah chapter 40:

Every valley shall be lifted up,
every mountain and hill made low;
The rugged land shall be a plain,
the rough country, a broad valley.

Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together;
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

You can read the whole passage here. Usually, when we read this passage, we think of John the Baptist, the “voice crying out in the wilderness.” We think of the Incarnation, of Jesus coming to earth 2,000 years ago. But isn’t it also a message for us today?

The Lord sees the darkness we are in, and he is coming to save us. He sees all the work that needs to be done. He sees the jagged mountains of pride, the deep valleys of deception, the rugged untamed wilderness of self-serving hearts.

We are a people living in darkness right now. It’s inescapable. But the Lord is coming, and with him, he brings the Light.

I’ve been getting a lot of comfort today in the words of O Come, O Come Emmanuel. We often tend to think of this as a Christmas carol, but really it’s not. Read it slowly.

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
shall come to you, O Israel.

O come, O Wisdom from on high,
who ordered all things mightily;
to us the path of knowledge show
and teach us in its ways to go.

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
who to your tribes on Sinai’s height
in ancient times did give the law
in cloud and majesty and awe.

O come, O Branch of Jesse’s stem,
unto your own and rescue them!
From depths of hell your people save,
and give them victory o’er the grave.

O come, O Key of David, come
and open wide our heavenly home.
Make safe for us the heavenward road
and bar the way to death’s abode.

O come, O Bright and Morning Star,
and bring us comfort from afar!
Dispel the shadows of the night
and turn our darkness into light.

O come, O King of nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind.
Bid all our sad divisions cease
and be yourself our King of Peace.

Come, “O Wisdom” Come, “O Lord of Might”. Could you imagine a prayer we need more right now? We know that Jesus promised never to abandon us. We wait for him to come and reveal his Glory.

Maranatha!

 

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Do you remember?

Do you remember?

Have you ever read Hilaire Belloc’s “Tarantella”? It’s such a fun poem. He uses the words to create the rhythm of the famous folk dance from the Mezzogiorno, where my family is originally from. “Do you remember an Inn, Miranda? Do you remember an Inn?”

This afternoon, I took a little break from work to walk around my alma mater (Catholic University). It was the first real spring day after a long spell of post-winter chill.

 

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Where I live, April is usually warm and sunny, but this year it’s been noticeably overcast and cold. It’s so strange to see people wearing their winter coats to checking out the cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin. (I promise you, if you’re not from DC, it’s not usually like that).

The extended winter of this year has been matched by an extended winter in my soul. More than once in the last week have I asked myself, “Why, if it’s Easter, am I still stuck in the Garden?”

As I began my walk, I said a little prayer and asked Jesus to come along with me.

First I noticed the dandelions, and the tiny little purple and blue flowers peeking out among the weeds.

And I heard that quiet, gentle voice:

Do you remember?

And something began to stir.

Then I saw the tulips, with their bright red petals.

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Do you remember?

Then I found myself among the cherry blossoms, and watched as the little pink petals swirled around me, in and out of the streams of sunlight.

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Do you remember?

Yes, Lord, I do! I remember when dandelions and violets were priceless little treasures, and each new bloom was filled with possibilities.

I remember when I would sit in the grass and make chains of clover, and listen to the birds and wonder what it was that they were saying.

Yes, Lord. I remember. I remember what it was to be a little girl.

You still are, to me, and you can be, again.

Sometimes in the dark and stormy winters of life, we forget that there ever was a spring. Sometimes the chill sinks so deep that we don’t even realize there was a life before grief. Hope? What’s that?

If this is you, I promise you, spring will come. I don’t know how, I don’t know when, but I know it will.

Do you remember?

Nicodemus said to him, “How can a person once grown old be born again? Surely he cannot reenter his mother’s womb and be born again, can he?” Jesus answered, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

John 3:4-8

 

 

There Is Always Hope

You all know the story of Jairus, right? His daughter was sick, so he ran to Jesus and asked him to come help. Jesus and Jairus were walking back to Jairus’s house when someone came running up to them and told Jairus, “Your daughter has died. Do not trouble the teacher any longer.”

Your daughter has died.

Most likely the absolute worst news of Jairus’s life.

Do not trouble the teacher any longer.There’s no point. No hope. What can Jesus do now?

Here was Jairus, whose world had just ended. But Jesus looks at him and immediately says,

“Do not be afraid.”

Really, Jesus? Do not be afraid? How could he not be afraid?

“Have faith, and your daughter will live.”

We know how the story ends. Jesus goes back to the house, sees the girl who has died, takes her hand and says, “Little girl, arise.” And she does. And he tells them to feed her. (Ever notice how in the Gospels whenever people come back from the dead they’re hungry, like when Jesus asked for food after his resurrection? Strange. I wonder if there’s a treatise on this somewhere.)

What really struck me today when my eyes fell on this passage was the part that Jairus was walking with Jesus as he got the news that his world had ended. And Jesus looked at him and said, Do not be afraid. Have faith…

Many times we find ourselves on the road with Christ when we get our own earth-shaking news. Sometimes it’s the loss of a person, like it was for Jairus. Other times it’s the loss of a dream, the loss of something we’ve worked for, a diagnosis we never expected, etc. And the world tells us to abandon all hope.

But that’s not what Jesus says.

Do not be afraid. Have faith.

There is hope.