The reading today was from Isaiah 65: 17-25, which Dermot explained was among the prophet’s last words.
They were words about God’s creation of a place where everyone, human and non-human thrived.
There would be no premature deaths and the place would be a place where people would delight in the lives given to them and be joyful.
No more would children be born to die early, no more would people labour only to see others benefit from their labour.
And peace would reign.
This was so important because the fall of Jerusalem and the reign of David shattered the belief of the Jews and they needed a new vision.
Dermot told us to:
“Keep in mind that prophets were not people who saw visions of future events akin to crystal ball visions. They were priests and steeped in faith who, having an understanding of the nature of God and human conduct, might give spiritual and moral warnings to leaders or the people. There were schools of prophets. Isaiah is likely to have come from one of these schools. His writings are with us today because they have the potential to open our understanding today of God and God’s hope for us.”
But the next words of Dermot may have opened the eyes of some who either think the days of the prophet are over or that prophets can only be ordained ministers:
“And we have ‘prophets’ today – I remember being so impressed with some of the advice and commentary of Rev Dr Dean Drayton, a former head of the Board of Mission – and indeed, I found an article in the SMH by Julia Baird so confronting that it seemed to me that her writing was prophetic in that instance. The cartoonist Leunig has been described as a leading theologian in Australia and prophet.”
Many of us are aware of the defeat and disappearance of the northern kingdom. This was followed by the defeat of any survivors of that disappearance by the Babylonians, and the transport of those and the people of the southern kingdom off to Babylon.
Some survivors of that kidnap later moved south to Jerusalem - which survived for another 200 years until the Babylonians defeated it.
“You can only imagine what a devastating experience it was for the followers of Yahweh to be defeated – twice - having believed that God would protect them. And so, while in exile in Babylon and after release back to Jerusalem, therewas a re-thinking of the relationship between humanity and God - between God and ‘God’s People’. Much of our Old Testament comes out of this turmoil, albeit, it has been edited and amended over later centuries into what we are left with today.”
Dermot then pointed to the reading which tells of a time when God will create a world as it should be and that some think we can stand back and wait for that to happen or we could give that time a “little nudge”
“– remember President Reagan who was over-heard (tongue in cheek) suggesting that we should ‘nuke’ the Russians.”
But Dermot went on to say
“the message is every bit about God’s Kingdom happening now, in the lives which are changed by God’s Spirit in every generation
- the message is for us to be God’s servants and hands to accomplish the goodness of Christ about us in this world and time.
- We, the hands and feet and voice of Christ on earth have a responsibility to bring the Kingdom of God into this world.” That sounds like a task far beyond us but Dermot is right on the money when he says: “God’s creative love and grace are available NOW – let’s get on board.”
- It’s up to us, powered by God’s creative love.
- “And God will delight in God’s people and no more shall the sound of weeping be heard.. or the cry of distress – and “the wolf and the lamb shall feed together”. Amen