By Sarah Cornwell
A Reading from Isaiah 65:17-25
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 for ever
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;
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.
Today in Isaiah, we hear that the Lord is about to create new heavens and a new earth. Even as we look ahead to the coming of Advent and the new Church year, we must remember that we are an Advent people at any time of year. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow until the end of time we are continually watching and waiting for the Lord who is coming to make all things new: the heavens, the earth, and even you and me.
This idea of a resurrected body is not so strange when one considers that our bodies are being remade throughout our lifetime. Stress, for instance, can have enormous physical and mental effects on the body. It can eat away at the immune system, making the body more vulnerable to illness. It can diminish lifespan by raising the body’s blood pressure, which can have serious cardiovascular repercussions. It can drive people to unhealthy behaviors like abuse of alcohol, drugs, or distorted eating or sleeping habits, all of which can have serious physical and psychological impacts. These things change us, in some cases down to the cellular level. This means that over time, our bodies can become quite different from the bodies the Lord knitted together in our mothers’ wombs.
And yet, here we have Isaiah with good news. God is taking our dry, aching bones, and he’s taking our scarred, groaning earth, and, despite the deformities wrought by time, he still recognizes his creation. He still says “It is good,” I can work with this. And in the resurrection of the new from the old, the past which so deformed us stays in the past. Not a single cell of our new bodies will burdened or marred by it. If we or the earth carry scars, they will only be as Jesus’ own scars: testimonies to the faithfulness and power of God. And so, in the midst of the woe and strain which surround us today, let God’s Advent people lift our weary heads and behold our hope.
Sarah Cornwell is a laywoman and an associate of the Eastern Province of the Community of St. Mary. She and her husband have six children and they live in the Hudson Valley north of New York City.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
The Diocese of Ibadan (Church of Nigeria)
The Diocese of Upper South Carolina