“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down."
In all the things happening to people in exile, the promise God made from the beginning is sent as a reminder, "I have claimed you, you are mine." As part of our baptismal understanding, we use this as our mission: "Marked with the cross of Christ forever, we are claimed, gathered, and sent for the sake of the world" - Mission statement of the ELCA. Good to remember when feeling in over your head. God provides God's presence and protection to a people feeling constantly persecuted.
“Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
God is gonna do a new thing! In this time of advent, we are expecting God to come and be among us. This time of anticipation is bursting out! We can see it if we are alert to God's presence, making ourselves present to the God who does claim us as God's own.
Because I provided water in the desert,
rivers through the sun-baked earth,
Drinking water for the people I chose,
the people I made especially for myself,
a people custom-made to praise me.
God reminds God's people about the impossible tasks previously undertaken, leading them out of slavery, providing water and food in the desert as "fuel for the journey." (shameless plug for the name of a great blogger I know, click here to read his devotions). God harkens back to the gift of creation, we were custom-made to praise God.
It wasn’t that I asked that much from you.
I didn’t expect expensive presents.
But you didn’t even do the minimum--
so stingy with me, so closefisted.
Yet you haven’t been stingy with your sins.
You’ve been plenty generous with them—and I’m fed up.
Yet Isaiah also reminds the exiles why they have found themselves between a rock and a hard place. Choosing the generosity of sinning over making themselves available to the God who claims them as God's own. God is fed up! This must be why God intends to do a new thing. The present relationship is not working. God is gonna have to come down here and fix this.
ENTER JESUS: Isaiah prophesies about the one suffering servant who will come and right a broken relationship with God. Jesus will be the continuation of the promise and protection God has continuously provided for God's people. God will take on this responsibility to, once and for all, make right the relationship with God and God's people.
So it is advantageous (Pun intended....during Advent) for us to cry out in the midst of our own exile; "Come Lord Jesus!"