Advent Reflection #10, 2016

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Isaiah 35:1-10
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are of a fearful heart, “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you.” Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes. A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God’s people; no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there. And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Are you getting old? Odds are you are! We all are. Some are just further along in the process than others. I am still young, I’ll grant you, but I’ve noticed that with each year, my grip is a little less than it used to be. My knees are a little weaker and more painful than they used to be. In fact, due to an old rugby injury I’m actually already a candidate for knee replacement – though the hope is to wait at least 10 years or more. As I talk with my parishioners, many of whom are growing older, I hear their frustration and lament over the pains of growing old. One man laments of having to get around in a wheel chair. Another, of having to use a cain. A woman mourns having to use a walker. Others are adjusting to life in a long-term care facility. Such was never in their plans. These struggles are not the exception, though, they are the rule. As we get old, our bodies break down, and we grow more and more susceptible to illnesses. I’m thinking of one man in particular when I read the verse about the Messiah strengthening hands and knees. I can only imagine the joy he would feel were this to happen to him. Perhaps you know someone like this. Perhaps you can relate to this?

This passage is overflowing with imagery of healing and redemption, of renewed hope and strength, and of the joy that will accompany the coming of the Messiah and His Kingdom. In the same way that your hands and knees need healing, so too does Creation. Healing is a paramount description of the coming Kingdom of God. God heals in a variety of ways: through medicine and doctors, through healthy choices and good decisions regarding diet and exercise, through miraculous healing, and also, I believe, through salvation. Healing does not always come in the form of the timeframe that we want it, but I think we’ve all experienced enough to know that God is, indeed, a healer. In the Gospels accounts of healing, Jesus’s actions were never an end or good in and of themselves, but rather they were signs that pointed towards the fact that God’s Spirit rested upon Him, and that the Kingdom of God was being inaugurated in and through him. Healing wasn’t Jesus’s goal, it was a sign of his status as Messiah, and a natural result of sinful, broken, sick creation coming in contact with its creator, redeemer, and friend. It couldn’t be any other way.

How do you need healing today? Have you looked to him to strengthen, heal, and provide release? Do your hands need strengthening? Do your knees need firming up? Are you struggling with an illness, an addiction, or some other ailment? Are you sad, depressed, or lonely? Today, spend time in prayer naming that which you need healing from. You see, we all need healing. Name this need, give it to Jesus, and look for His answer. You might also consider sharing this need with others, as we are often healed through the prayer and aid of others. God likes to work through other people. God is a healer. I’m confident, this day, we could all use a reminder of that fact.

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