Isaiah 35:1-10 (NIV)
The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom. It will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. They will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God. Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. But only the redeemed will walk there, and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
In many ways, these are unfamiliar and stressful times for our Lewinsville community of faith. For me Isaiah’s words, though from a different time, speak to the uncertainty of today as well as the promise of tomorrow. Though written of the time when the Israelites would be captive in Babylon and would return from exile, they also tell of God’s gift in Christ. Another way to read these verses is to see them as a recurring picture of God renewing life, reviving his people to ultimate victory. Isn’t this the way in which God always brings refreshment, enrichment, and new life to people?
Yesterday, the second Sunday in March, was an anniversary for our faith community. On March 15, 2020, the doors of our church and sanctuary were closed to us. Just like that! Because of a frightening and dangerous virus, we were told we were not permitted to gather in fellowship and worship. It was a jolt! It’s been a year where we’ve not hugged or shaken hands but have seen each other only in front of a screen.
Our “exile” has been only for a year and, with God’s blessing, our doors will be open in a few weeks when we are together once again as a community. In the meantime, let Isaiah remind us that “those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter with singing, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” Let’s all go back to Lewinsville feeling this way!
Gracious and comforting God, you are our shield in difficult times. You are our hope for the future. Look upon us who struggle with doubt, frustration, and weakness. Remind us that you make all things work together for the good of those who love you and are called according to your purpose. Through your Son, Jesus Christ, we pray.