Summary: Centuries before Christ, the prophet shares a divine vision of perfect peace, which Christians believe is fulfilled through the risen Christ.
Easter Day Yr C, 8/04/2007
Rev. Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
Pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, &
Chaplain of The Good Samaritan Society’s
South Ridge Village, Medicine Hat, Alberta
A few years back a west coast bishop returned home from a meeting of his denomination’s bishops. He reported on the meeting to his staff. He worked up the most energy in talking about the three major speakers. "One of the speakers," he told his staff, "teaches Bible at one of our seminaries. She did an excellent job of tracing all the currents of biblical research that have brought us to the present. She gave an excellent review of the recent and not so recent past in biblical studies."
"A second speaker," the bishop continued, "was a theologian. He did much the same thing as the biblical teacher. He reminded us of our heritage. He talked about the giants of theology in the early 20th century. He outlined the major streams of theology that have brought us to our present state."
The bishop started warming to his subject now. "The third speaker," he reported with a gleam in his eye, "was an incredibly gifted lay woman who works in the field of applied science. She is a member of our denomination and a product of one of our church colleges. The things she told us about the nature of science today were mindboggling. It’s a field that is changing with incredible speed. The average length of time of a job in her field is three years. The average length of time of a company in the field is seven years. On the one hand, she said, that is scary. On the other hand, however, this is probably the most exciting time to be alive that humankind has ever known. Things are changing. There are grand new opportunities. We can change our future!"
After he had finished reviewing the speakers the bishop grew more serious. "I found it interesting," he went on, "that our church’s teachers talked to us mostly about the past while she talked to us mostly of the future. And that’s not all. She not only talked about the future but she made it clear that science has moved far beyond the point of thinking that God is to be factored out of any intelligent equation. As we move to a new future, she said that the spiritual issues were of absolutely vital concern. And you have the answers here, she said to us. We look to you. We need you. Help us provide the spiritual
sustenance the world needs as we move toward a new tomorrow."
The bishop was clearly fond of this woman scientist. He had a chance to visit with her at the end of the five days they were together. He reported to his staff on that conversation as well. "She told me," the bishop began, "that she had been very carefully observing our group over our five days together. And she was impressed. ’These are wonderful leaders,’ she told me. ’As a group you are incredibly bright and talented. I’ve never heard any group that is so knowledgeable of the kind of issues you discuss with each other. I’ve been listening in on your conversations and I am thankful that my church has such dedicated leaders. But,’ she said, ’everything you talk about is in the past. It’s the past that you are so expert in discussing. It’s the church’s past that you are so knowledgeable of. But I don’t think I’ve heard anyone discuss the future. Where is your church going in this exciting time? What kind of new future are you going to create? Surely in the church you have language to talk about the future. Surely you have language in the Bible which can hold out a vision of hope for a new world.’ "1
In today’s first lesson from Isaiah, the prophet gives us a beautiful vision of the future. It is a message full-to-overflowing with joy, and hope and peace. Our future, says the prophet is not something to be dreaded or feared—rather, it is something to get excited about. The prophet sees a beautiful future which is not our doing, but God’s doing. God, says the prophet, is going to act in a wonderful and surprising way. God is going to create a new heavens and a new earth and a new Jerusalem. God is going to take great joy in this new creation, and the people too are going to be full of joy and celebrate God’s new creation.
The prophet then describes something of what such a new creation is going to look like: there will be no more weeping and crying, no more tragic deaths of infants, no more premature deaths of adults, people shall enjoy building and living in their houses—no more homeless people, people shall eat the fruit from the vineyards that they planted, enjoying the work of their hands—no more hungry people. God shall bless the people of all ages, and prayers shall be answered even before people pray them. This is a picture of a society where perfect equality, freedom, justice and peace prevail. Even the whole created order of nature shall be changed as enemies shall become friends—wolves and lambs, lions and oxen, even serpents shall live in perfect harmony and peace.