Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Word for Today - Daily Office

Isaiah 26:1-4, 8 At that time, this song will be sung in the country of Judah: We have a strong city, Salvation City, built and fortified with salvation. [2] Throw wide the gates so good and true people can enter. [3] People with their minds set on you, you keep completely whole, Steady on their feet, because they keep at it and don't quit.  [4] Depend on God and keep at it because in the Lord God you have a sure thing… [8] We're in no hurry, God. We're content to linger in the path sign-posted with your decisions. Who you are and what you've done are all we'll ever want. 

COMMENT: What a powerful paraphrase that speaks to the depths of my heart this morning! The kind of people God is producing are pilgrim people - or, sojourners - people who are on a journey, with God, and with one another, and are learning the practice of walking-with-God-in-community. This has been the charter of Israel from her foundations - incipiently, when our forefather Abraham began his journey in Ur of the Chaldeans, trusting in the promise of the One who calls and goes before (who is already out there before us, summoning us into his preferred future). It was the lot of Israel in exodus in wilderness, to learn with patience and courage to keep up with this God-on-the-move. And Isaiah, speaking to a people far from home and longing for return, now speaks of a day when the people will return to the City: people whose minds are set on God... people who are steady because they don't give up...people who have learned to depend on God and God alone... people who know the necessity of waiting and listening and watching for God to move first, who are not determined to make things happen, but content to let God be God and follow faithfully... people who are happy in God and what God has done, who find their highest joy in being-in-relationship with this God who will bring us all home!

This passage reminds me of something I read a long time ago by Eugene Peterson, who was quoting Frederich Nietzsche: "The essential thing 'in heaven and earth' is... that there be a long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living." (from Beyond Good and Evil). Oh, that my own life in God may be so described: a long obedience in the same direction! As Peterson notes, this is the call for us who want to walk the path of discipleship in an instant society. Disciples are not made in an instant, and as I journey with God and God's people, I find that I need that regular, even daily encouragement from the Pioneer and Perfecter of our Faith (the one who has truly blazed the trail of faithfulness to God) and I need regular encouragement from my fellow travelers on this road of discipleship - a long and winding road that leads to Your door (to quote Paul McCartney).

Lord, may my whole life be one long obedient response to you! In the name of Jesus, the Pioneer. Amen.

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