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Tuesday, November 13, 2007
God is creating a new heaven and a new earth, a reign of harmony and wholeness for all creation. As disciples, we are called to explore what it means to live into that vision and to help bring about a world of justice and peace. What does it mean to be open to the new thing that God is doing in our midst? Isaiah 65:17–25 Many scholars believe these verses were written after 539 BCE, when the people of Israel returned to Jerusalem after their exile in Babylon. The community faced difficulties. Their return was not as triumphant as they had hoped. Much had to be rebuilt as they took up their lives again. The prophet encourages them, reminding them of God’s promise of salvation – God will not remember Israel’s disobedience. The word remember in scripture means bringing a past event into the present with all the power of the original. The words of the prophet assure readers today that our sins no longer have power over us, that God brings healing and wholeness. How can we put aside painful parts of our story now finished? What from our past is important for us to remember and to carry with us? God has a dream and is bringing about a new heaven and a new earth to those who are faithful. The prophet declares that God’s people are part of that dream. In the new heaven and earth, they will live out full lives. The created world, too, will exist in harmony as it did in stories of the first creation. The serpent of Genesis 3 is cursed. We also are blessed in the ordinary routines of everyday life. God hears and answers, listens and supports. God delights and rejoices in us. God continues to create and to call us forward into the dream of a new creation of peace and harmony. Other people of faith may have different ideas of what the new vision is. How do we live in peace with one another as we explore the new world to which God calls us? Isaiah 12, written when the people of Israel were threatened by Assyria, is a hymn of praise for all that God has done. It incorporates many quotations from the psalms. The name Isaiah means “God has saved.” Surely God is my salvation, the prophet affirms. When the people trust God, they sing and shout for joy. God is in the midst of their lives. We continue to look for signs of the new creation, giving thanks that God’s comfort is real. Paul calls the early Christian community to continue to live out their faith, in contrast to those who have stopped working because they believe that Jesus would return very soon. In 2 Thessalonians 3:6–13, Paul reminds them that he worked to earn his living while he was with them. The words of Paul also call us to continue to live our lives faithfully, finding God in the ordinariness of everyday life. Jesus warns his followers to not be too preoccupied with rumours of the end of the world. Luke 21:5–19 was written down after the destruction of the temple. In this passage, Jesus, standing in the temple courtyard, speaks of the coming destruction. Jesus tells that before the new heaven and earth come about, Christians will be persecuted for their faith. God will help them find the words to testify to their faith and will reward their endurance. God continues to create. Today, what are the signs that God is making a new heaven and earth? Our Sunday lessons move us toward the conclusion of the church year, to the Reign of Christ celebration next week and to Advent when we welcome the Promised One whose coming breaks into human history to begin God’s new day. What is our role in working to bring about a world of justice and peace for all? How do we live into this vision and help to create it?

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Kairos-Milwaukie UCC Blog

Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary by Rev. Rick Skidmore and Rev. Jim Ogden.

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