Saturday, October 23, 2010

Dry grass, skulls & the Lord: for Sunday

It is raining a beautiful soft rain in Sacramento tonight. All of the dry plants and weeds in the garden, burned by the hot winds of fall, are ending their short lifespan with the gentle rain that usually comes toward the end of our autumn. Their dry presence reminds me of several verses in Isaiah:

A voice says “Call out.” Then he answered what shall I call out?” All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. (40:6-8)
I am also reminded of a purse my granddaughter, an artist, painted. I asked her why there were skulls on some of the flower stems. She answered, first, as many good artists would, that she thought skulls were beautiful. But then she said she was thinking of those verses in Isaiah about God blowing on the flowers and the death of people.

But there are amazing verses that come before these verses. They set hope before those rushing toward death. The text speaks of the good news coming to Jerusalem. The words speak of preparing the way before the coming of the Lord. This speaks of the coming incarnation of the eternal Son, Jesus Christ. It speaks of the Glory of the Lord. “Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

And then the verses that follow 6-8, are full of God’s beautiful promises:
Behold the Lord God will come with might, with his arm ruling for him. Behold his reward is with him and his recompense before him. Like a shepherd he will tend his flock, in his arms he will gather the lambs and carry them in his bosom; he will gently lead the nursing ewes. (10-11)
After these two verses, like a great symphony, the text speaks to God’s glory and greatness until once again there is imagery of God blowing on humanity, but in this case rulers and judges will wither. But then, again the word turns to those that God is shepherding, and the text speaks of the Everlasting lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth who will give his people strength and power.

So the eternal God through the Son gifts the children with such a close connection to himself that there is nothing that stands between. United to Jesus we are gently led, carried and strengthened. That relationship to God is unique and totally his doing. Jesus Christ is Lord.

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