We’ve now spent five days this week listening to a prophet whose message was all good news. The only bad news is that some of what he promised never seemed to happen. The lives of hopeful believers stretched on into “same old, same old” weeks and months, and eventually into generation after generation of unrewarded waiting.
Then, one sabbath in the village of Nazareth, a hometown boy now grown tall is asked to read from Scripture and offer any commentary he wishes. (That’s how a portion of their services worked back then.) He finds his text and, as he reads, mothers glance approvingly at one another and old men stroke their beards, nodding with satisfaction; Joseph and Mary’s boy reads well!
The words Jesus reads are the same ones we’ve pondered this week, but Jesus does more than read and ponder. He startles the worshipers and us, announcing: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
We, like they, prefer to hear our Bible historically, as though it were a book telling us of long ago and far away, soothing us with shopworn phrases of familiar comfort. Jesus, however, dares to open it and say “Today! The sleepy practice of non-expectant waiting and half-hearted hoping is over. God is here and now. Today is the day of fulfillment.”
Our great spiritual challenge this Advent season is to awaken to the liveliness of the ancient words we hear from Scripture. To receive prophecies like Isaiah’s as a continuing word of God for today. To stand under the weight and glory of knowing we really have been chosen and anointed to be good news people, “glad rags” people fashioning from the past a present of beautiful justice and mercy in preparation for God’s tomorrow party. Are you ready for this?
Using the phrases of Isaiah 61, list ways to express and act on God’s “here and now-ness” in the “today” of this season?
God, help me hear all your words as “today” words and respond well. Amen.