“Just for You!” reflection
Rev. Jerry Kulp
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
Greetings and peace my friends!
Recently I was thinking about how it is we find “hope” during a world that seems to be in chaos. Nothing really seems as it should be…. Right? It has been a long time since we gathered in person for worship. The “newest” fashion statements seem to be face masks when most of us did not even own a mask a few months ago. People seem angry with one another in violent and hate filled ways. Divisions of thought seem to be separating one friend from another. In fact, during the recent summer Thunderstorms with violent and loud clashing “thunder bummers”, hail, down pouring of rain followed by strange looking skies, seem to almost metaphorically show the disparity running amuck in what defines our cultural norms.
Then, I reflected upon and prayed upon these words from the prophet Isaiah. He penned these words to paper at a time when the Israelites were being released from captivity in a foreign land and returned to their “homeland,” but not the same “homeland” they left so many years earlier. Sure, the geographic location was the same, the hills were in their correct location, the roads seemed to lead to the same places, but now they went “home” to a place that found very few seeded fields. They went “home” to a place where the temple they loved still lay in ruin from all those years ago. They went “home” to find houses and dwelling places still lying in ruin from the occupation of a foreign enemy. Indeed, this was their “home coming” but not to the city or the “home” that they had left, this city, this “home” required to be re-created. This is the situation to which Isaiah eloquently writes.
Here is some simple truth; to inspire or have hope, this hope must be grounded in reality! Isaiah viewed that the hope he spoke of is grounded in the reality of our God! You know, the God Who loves this world so much that our Lord continues to send rain and snow to water the soil in order that seed would grow! Surely you understand that our God is a God Who loves and cares about people and is passionately involved in creation and “re-creation” to make sure that human life can be sustained.
With Isaiah’s words implanted in the hearts of those ancient people, they began the task of re-creating their “homes” knowing that God accompanied them in their journey!
Soon enough, you and I may be returning to the “homes” of our community of faith, but trust me when I share that the “church homes” that we return to will be significantly different from the “church homes” we left at the end of February. The friendly faces around you will be covered by face masks. The hugs and handshakes of friends greeting one another will be missing. While our beautiful instruments will be singing glory to our God, our voices will remain silent as we reflect on the meaning of the words instead of joyfully lifting our voice in song. The way in which we celebrate God’s Holy meal will feel as foreign as going to a distant land to relearn table manners.
Yet my friends, we, just like those who first heard this message from the prophet Isaiah will have hope. For we, like the countless faithful who have come before and the countless faithful who will come behind us, remember that our God intimately and passionately works with creation and works among us to renew, refresh, and re-create the world around us continually.
When you and I have hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow, at the core of our being we must know that these “dreams and better ways” can only be realized through physical and visible transformation. Transformation such as continuing to keep “live streaming” worship occurring and expanding our ability to include sisters and brothers in Christ who have not been to our “home” due to illness, age, or lack of technology, the ability to be present among us in new and profound ways.
For the people who first received this hope-filled message from the prophet Isaiah, these words led to joy and celebration! May they have the same impact among God’s faithful people today and lead us all to a place of joy and celebration when the day comes that we return to our “homes.”
Keep trusting God, keep washing those hands and be at peace for our Lord is always refreshing, renewing, and re-creating!