It took a year to read the Bible, then almost 9 months to read the Apocrypha. Now, I'm going to try to offer reflections on the Narrative Lectionary. But, I won't be posting daily--at least, for a while.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Faith in spite of, a Reflection on Isaiah 63:7-9

During this week that we have been celebrating the Nativity and the blessings on our lives that have come to us, we also can admit that at times we haven't felt very blessed or secure or even free. Our faith does not in any way require us to pretend that we don't at times have fears or doubts.

Ronald Allen & Clark Williamson, in Preaching the Old Testament, discuss this reading from Isaiah who was speaking to people who had been allowed to return home from exile only to find their new lives there very difficult:
It is an almost inevitable part of the life of faith to feel abandoned by God. We do well to remember Martin Luther's insistence that our faith, hope, and trust in God are always "in spite of." We believe in spite our unbelief, trust in spite of our lack of trust, commit ourselves to live lives of faith in spite of our sins, and we hope against hope. At Christmas we celebrate the coming into the world of the Prince of Peace in spite of the absence of peace. We love the neighbor, in spite of the fact that many of the are homeless and we seem not to notice. To lament, at its deepest level is not to express a lack of faith. It is to confess faith in spite of the failures of faith. ...
As God has acted graciously on our behalf, so we too should act graciously, particularly when doing so does not seem reasonable. Radical love is what is called for.
God's love is a relational love that calls forth love in return. ....
and my former seminary professor John Holbert posted The Hope of Divine Companionship as part of the Advent Series on the Patheos website. Here's an excerpt:
Poets exercise their huge imaginations to offer hope to those who have no hope. This God has acted throughout the long history of God's people, and the poet wishes to remind them of those actions for them, the chosen ones. So, he now "recounts the gracious deeds of YHWH, the praiseworthy acts of YHWH" (63:7ab). One could also translate these lines: "I will remember YHWH's acts of unbreakable love, YHWH's ringing hymns!" YHWH has acted and we have sung in response, because "of all YHWH has done for us, great good to the house of Israel that YHWH has shown according to God's mercy (compassion—Hebrew is literally 'womb'), according to the abundance of steadfast love (or "unbreakable love)" (63:7cd). The poet has here reached into the deep language of the very center of Israel's faith and is reminding them of God's good deeds from the foundation of the nation.

No comments: