Chelsea Van Der Poel explores how regardless the season, God's goodness creates a hopeful new day.
On the nineteenth day of Advent, 2021, Micaela Schmidt reflects on light breaking forth like the dawn when our attitudes meet the attributes of Jesus.
Seeking in the fields
Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.
If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.
Isaiah 58:6-10 NRSV
In his book ‘The Calling’, Open Doors founder Brother Andrew recalls a moment in his early days serving the persecuted church: In East Germany, an emotional pastor embraced him and began telling the story of Joseph in Genesis, who was asked by his Father to go into the fields, find his brothers and see how they were faring. When asked why he was wandering in the fields, Joseph replied “I am seeking my brothers.” Reaching this point, the pastor broke down and exclaimed to his congregation “This is what Brother Andrew is doing! He is seeking his brothers.”
The statement “I am seeking my brothers” has stuck with me. Since reading it, I have been wondering: what does it mean for me to seek my brothers and sisters in the fields and find out how they are faring? When God (through Isaiah) refers to the hungry, the homeless poor, and the naked, I feel compelled to look beyond their physical needs (although they are important too) to the spiritual. What about the poor in spirit? Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness? The persecuted?
For most of my life, I have felt like one who is lost in the fields. As a totally blind person, church gatherings are difficult when I can’t see who is nearby and people are often uncomfortable approaching me. I am not generally asked or expected to take part in ministries. People panic if I offer to stack chairs or wash dishes. It is common for disabled people (yes, even in the body of Christ) to find themselves on the outskirts of a community. In his book You Owe Me Dinner, Jim Stallard reflects: “What is most beneficial to me is not so much a building that meets all the legal requirements, but rather an attitude that meets all the attributes of Jesus.”
Friends, let’s not turn away from our own kin (V7). Let’s seek our brothers and sisters in the fields and include, rather than exclude. We need one another. What wonderful promises we have in this passage if we aim to have an attitude that meets the attributes of Jesus! We hear so much about light and darkness, especially this time of year, but what is this light that will break forth like the dawn? It is the light that feeds the hungry, covers the naked, and shelters the poor. I wonder. . .who might you find out in the fields today?
Micaela Schmidt is a theatre maker living on the lands of the Wiradjuri, Waveroo and Dhudhuroa peoples. Micaela has a particular interest in making the arts accessible to regional communities and people with disabilities. Micaela’s hope for all members of the body of Christ is that they will find belonging, and be encouraged to fully contribute to the ministries God has called them to.
I’m sorry for the times when I have hidden myself from my own kin.
Please help my worship on Sunday to impact the way I love and care for others on Monday.
Please give me the strength and compassion to feed the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, especially when that means stepping out of my comfort zone.
Thank you for your many promises in this passage of scripture, including that then my light shall break forth like the dawn.
In the precious Name of Jesus,
Photograph: Brooke Prentis, Sunrise, Redcliffe, Gubbi Gubbi Country, Queensland
Visual Description: The photographer looks out from the beach, towards the ocean. At the horizon, the sun has just started to rise.