Good morning! I hope this day finds you and your family well, and I want you to know that you are in my prayers daily during this difficult time.
I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below — as well as on the theology woven into “It is well with my soul.”
Isaiah 65:17-25 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
The Glorious New Creation
17 For I am about to create new heavens
and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered
or come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I am creating;
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy,
and its people as a delight.
19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
and delight in my people;
no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it,
or the cry of distress.
20 No more shall there be in it
an infant that lives but a few days,
or an old person who does not live out a lifetime;
for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth,
and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed.
21 They shall build houses and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 They shall not build and another inhabit;
they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
23 They shall not labor in vain,
or bear children for calamity;[a]
for they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord—
and their descendants as well.
24 Before they call I will answer,
while they are yet speaking I will hear.
25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
the lion shall eat straw like the ox;
but the serpent—its food shall be dust!
They shall not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain,
says the Lord.
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
In the affirmation of faith that we use most Sundays in worship, we say, “We believe in God, who has created and is creating.” As in our reading for today, we are affirming that God is always doing a new thing. God not only has created, but God is now still creating.
The apostle Paul made this very personal when he wrote, “So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, Common English Bible) Renewal, new life, new creation, born anew—these are the words we use to describe the abundant life that Christ came to offer us.
The passage of scripture from Isaiah promises something new. The people, who have suffered exile will be restored. There will be a new beginning, a new start, new life, and new hope.
As I read these words here near the start of our new year, I can’t help but read them through the lens of all the terrible things we have experienced over the past year. How would you paraphrase the words of Isaiah for our time?
Jesus saw a new world coming. He called it the kingdom of God. Jesus was always calling people to live in the realm of God. I use the word “realm” with a purpose—we don’t live in a kingdom and aren’t much acquainted in our culture what that means, but the word “realm” captures the meaning beautifully. The word “realm” means a royal domain, like the term “kingdom,” but it also means “the region, sphere, or domain within which anything occurs, prevails, or dominates.” [dictionary.com] So, I use the more inclusive term “realm”: the realm of God is “the region, sphere, or domain within which the will of God occurs, prevails, or dominates.”
That is a new creation and Jesus calls us to live within it and to help make it so.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster