May 30, 2015

 Isaiah 25-27
God, you are my God. I celebrate you. I praise you. You’ve done your share of miracle-wonders, well-thought-out plans, solid and sure.  Here you’ve reduced the city to rubble,... Superpowers will see it and honor you, brutal oppressors bow in worshipful reverence.  They’ll see that you take care of the poor,  that you take care of poor people in trouble, provide a warm, dry place in bad weather, provide a cool place when it’s hot.  Brutal oppressors are like a winter blizzard and vicious foreigners like high noon in the desert.  But you, shelter from the storm and shade from the sun, shut the mouths of the big-mouthed bullies.

But here on this mountain, God-of-the-Angel-Armies will throw a feast for all the people of the world,...And here on this mountain, God will banish the pall of doom hanging over all peoples,...Yes, he’ll banish death forever. And God will wipe the tears from every face.  He’ll remove every sign of disgrace from his people, wherever they are. Yes! God says so!

Also at that time, people will say, “Look at what’s happened! This is our God!  We waited for him and he showed up and saved us!  This God, the one we waited for! Let’s celebrate, sing the joys of his salvation.  God’s hand rests on this mountain!”...

At that time, this song will be sung in the country of Judah:  We have a strong city, Salvation City, built and fortified with salvation. Throw wide the gates so good and true people can enter.  People with their minds set on you, you keep completely whole, Steady on their feet, because they keep at it and don’t quit.  Depend on God and keep at it because in the Lord God you have a sure thing.  Those who lived high and mighty he knocked off their high horse. He used the city built on the hill as fill for the marshes.  All the exploited and outcast peoples build their lives on the reclaimed land.  The path of right-living people is level. The Leveler evens the road for the right-living.  We’re in no hurry, God. We’re content to linger in the path sign-posted with your decisions.  Who you are and what you’ve done are all we’ll ever want. Through the night my soul longs for you.  Deep from within me my spirit reaches out to you.  When your decisions are on public display, everyone learns how to live right.  If the wicked are shown grace, they don’t seem to get it.  In the land of right living, they persist in wrong living, blind to the splendor of God.

You hold your hand up high, God, but they don’t see it.  Open their eyes to what you do, to see your zealous love for your people.  Shame them. Light a fire under them.  Get the attention of these enemies of yours.  God, order a peaceful and whole life for us because everything we’ve done, you’ve done for us....The more life you give, the more glory you display, and stretch the borders to accommodate more living!...

Come, my people, go home and shut yourselves in.  Go into seclusion for a while until the punishing wrath is past, because God is sure to come from his place to punish the wrong of the people on earth... At that time God will unsheathe his sword, his merciless, massive, mighty sword. He’ll punish the serpent Leviathan as it flees, the serpent Leviathan thrashing in flight. He’ll kill that old dragon that lives in the sea.
“At that same time, a fine vineyard will appear. There’s something to sing about! I, God, tend it.  I keep it well-watered. I keep careful watch over it so that no one can damage it.  I’m not angry. I care. Even if it gives me thistles and thornbushes, I’ll just pull them out and burn them up. Let that vine cling to me for safety, let it find a good and whole life with me, let it hold on for a good and whole life.”  The days are coming when Jacob shall put down roots, Israel blossom and grow fresh branches, and fill the world with its fruit.

Has God knocked them to the ground as he knocked down those who hit them? Oh, no.  Were they killed as their killers were killed? Again, no.  He was hard on them all right. The exile was a harsh sentence.  He blew them away on a fierce blast of wind. But the good news is that through this experience Jacob’s guilt was taken away....

At that time God will thresh from the River Euphrates to the Brook of Egypt,  and you, people of Israel, will be selected grain by grain.  At that same time a great trumpet will be blown, calling home the exiles from Assyria, welcoming home the refugees from Egypt to come and worship God on the holy mountain, Jerusalem.

Luke 9:37 - 9:62 - When they came down off the mountain, the next day, a big crowd was there to meet him.  A man called from out of the crowd, “Please, please teacher, take a look at my son.  He is my only child.  Often a spirit seizes him...I asked your disciples to deliver him but they couldn’t.”  Jesus said, “What a generation!  No sense of God!  No focus to your lives!  How many times do I have to go over these things?  How much longer do I have to put up with this?  Bring your son here.”  The boy went into a convulsion when approaching Jesus.  Jesus stepped in, ordered the vile spirit gone, healed the boy, and handed him back to his father.  The crowd all shook their heads in wonder, astonished at God’s greatness. 

While they continued to stand around exclaiming over all the things he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples. “Treasure and ponder each of these next words:  The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into human hands.”  They didn’t get what he was saying.  It was like he was speaking a foreign language and they couldn’t make heads or tails of it.  But they were embarrassed to ask him what he meant.

The disciples started arguing over which of them would be most famous.  When Jesus realized how much this mattered to them, he brought a child to his side.  “Whoever accepts this child as if the child were me, accepts me,” he said  “And whoever accepts me, accepts the One who sent me.  You became great by accepting, not asserting.  Your spirit, not your size, makes the difference.”  

When it came close to the time for his Ascension, Jesus gathered up his courage and steeled himself for the journey to Jerusalem.  He sent messengers on ahead.  They came to a Samaritan village to make arrangements for his hospitality.  But when the Samaritans learned that his destination was Jerusalem, they refused hospitality.  When the disciples, James and John, learned of it, they said, “Master, do you want us to call bolts of lightning down out of the sky and incinerate them?”  Jesus turned on them: “Of course not!”  And they traveled on to another village. 

On the road, someone asked if he could go along.  “I’ll go with you, wherever,” he said.  Jesus was curt; “Are you ready to rough it?  We’re not staying in the best inns, you know.”  Jesus said to another, “Follow me.”  He said “Certainly, but first excuse me for a couple of days, please.  I have to make arrangements for my father’s funeral.”  Jesus refused,  “First things first.  Your business is life, not death.  And life is urgent:  Announce God’s kingdom!”  Then another said, “I’m ready to follow you, Master, but first excuse me while I get things straightened out at home.”  Jesus said, “No procrastination.  No backward looks.  You can’t put God’s kingdom off until tomorrow.  Seize the day.”