Advent Devotion – Saturday December 22
The Rev. Dr. Brenda Guess, Chancellor of the Leadership Institute at Allen Temple Baptist Church, Oakland, CA; MA in Biblical Studies from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA ‘2004; PhD Nova Southeast University in Higher Education ‘2011
The Coming of a New Day
7 Before she was in labor
she gave birth;
before her pain came upon her
she delivered a son.
8 Who has heard of such a thing?
Who has seen such things?
Shall a land be born in one day?
Shall a nation be delivered in one moment?
Yet as soon as Zion was in labor
she delivered her children.
9 Shall I open the womb and not deliver?
says the Lord;
shall I, the one who delivers, shut the womb?
says your God.
10 Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her,
all you who love her;
rejoice with her in joy,
all you who mourn over her—
11 that you may nurse and be satisfied
from her consoling breast;
that you may drink deeply with delight
from her glorious bosom. (New Revised Standard Version – NRSV)
In this poetic writing of Isaiah we see a metaphoric illustration of the birth of a new Zion. There is no doubt that the Israelites have suffered during their exile in Babylonia, however, this illustration shows that with God there can be a new day, a new life in Jerusalem. The text says, “Before she was in labor, she gave birth; before her pain came upon her she delivered a son. Who has heard of such a thing? Who has seen such things?” Birth without pain and suffering. A nation born in a moment. The imagery of birth is in contrast to barrenness or emptiness as depicted in other biblical texts. This text speaks to the fullness and power of our God.
In recent times, one may say that our nation resembles one of barrenness as we experience daily a lack of resources—lack of affordable housing, food and medical benefits; experiences of racism, sexism, and discrimination which is being affirmed by some of the top leaders of our nation. It is a narrowing of thinking that overlooks the fullness and power of our God. This has brought much pain and suffering for the people. For those of us experiencing the pain we wonder in moments, can we hope for a better day?
In this Advent season, we can be reminded of Martin Luther King, Jr. who encouraged us to “step out in the bigness of God. Out of our narrowness to his bigness. You will see life in a new light.”1 With God the coming of a new day is on the horizon! We can rejoice and drink deeply with delight from the glorious bosom of our Lord!
1 Source: Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers, 1954-1968, Boston University, Boston, MA
O God, our God, forgive our foolish ways. Restore us to our rightful minds that we might be generous with all you have given us, and in doing so see your light for our path. Amen.