Going Deeper 12.09.2020

The first reading for Advent 2... Isaiah 61:1-4 8-11

The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion— to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, to display his glory. They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. … For I the LORD love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge that they are a people whom the LORD has blessed. I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.

Such timeless and yet timely words of comfort!  Addressed to people in the midst of great hardship, these words bring hope and assurance to God's people of all ages.  And given that the entrance of sin and rebellion into God's good creation has brought constant hardship, these words are seemingly perpetually relevant.

It is important to note that in the middle of the text the prophet proclaims this word of God: "I the LORD love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing."  We do well to ponder why God hates sin (not the sinner, just the sin)!  The reason God hates sin is because He loves the sinner, and understands the devastating consequences sin brings upon the sinner... and those around him/her.  Injustice, robber, wrongdoing... are hurtful to both the perpetrator and the victim.  The results are devastating.

Yet the Lord has not abandoned His people but has graciously come (again and again) to their rescue.  The ultimate rescue we are preparing to celebrate-- the coming of God-in-the-flesh, the Babe of Bethlehem, the Light and Savior of the World.  Because of His mission of mercy, we can all proclaim: "will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness.

Therefore, in the midst of dark and challenging times, we can experience wonderful hope and extraordinary peace, knowing that our Savior has come, and that He will come again to restore us once and for all.

In His Peace,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church, Wellington

"Gratefully Growing Servants"