Readings for the Christmas Season
The eighth day of Christmas
17 For I am about to create new heavens
…..and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered
…..or come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice for ever
…..in what I am creating;
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy,
…..and its people as a delight.
19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
…..and delight in my people;
no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it,
…..or the cry of distress.
20 No more shall there be in it
…..an infant that lives but a few days,
…..or an old person who does not live out a lifetime;
for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth,
…..and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed.
21 They shall build houses and inhabit them;
…..they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.22
They shall not build and another inhabit;
…..they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
…..and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
23 They shall not labor in vain,
…..or bear children for calamity;
for they shall be offspring blessed by the LORD –
…..and their descendants as well.
24 Before they call I will answer,
…..while they are yet speaking I will hear.
25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
…..the lion shall eat straw like the ox;
…..but the serpent – its food shall be dust!
They shall not hurt or destroy
…..on all my holy mountain,
……….says the LORD. Isaiah 65:17-25
+ + +
Perhaps the promise of a world made new is appropriate for the first day of a new year. On New Year’s Eve we bid adieu to the old and welcome the new. We look forward. We make resolutions. We anticipate a new and better year.
We can imagine what might be. We can imagine a year that’s healthier, wealthier, or happier. I don’t think my dog ever hoped for anything other than something to fall from the dinner table – or a Milk Bone when she came in from outside (she seemed to glance at the box every time). I suspect she dreamt of chasing rabbits rather than a world where rabbits and dogs lie down in peace.
We can imagine a better world. We can imagine a world where the bombing stops. We can imagine a world where none go hungry. We can imagine a world where all have work, elders are honored and children suffer no violence of body or spirit. Something is written in the human heart. Something that speaks of what could be. Something that speaks of what should be: a world without fear, a world without sorrow.
The promise of the prophet resonates deeply in us. And the question that abides is whether the prophet’s vision is a vain hope in a broken world, or whether God can unbreak the human heart – whether God can heal and restore his creation.
The way we answer that question will explain the spirit in which we live, not only in this new year, but in every new day.