Scott Sanders launches our Advent series by getting lost in the bush and finding the humble path - at expense of his pride.
Elizabeth Stone is the Interim General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in Australia.
Today's reading is Isaiah 35:3-7
We live in an age where disrupters are respected for bringing about “the next best thing”. Disruption is most common using digital technology to change the ways we inter-relate, communicate and live. It is seen as good and necessary. But the pace of change around us makes many people fearful.
There is a whole new area of business advice now devoted to helping business and their people cope with disruption. ‘Old’ industries are being advised about how to be responsive to what’s next and how to be prepared in the face of the disrupters, often seen as “young up-starts”.
During Advent as we read the prophets - Isaiah, Malachi, Jeremiah, Micah - we are reminded that ‘disrupters’ have an honoured place in our Biblical tradition. Isaiah and Jeremiah are both ‘prophets of old’ and were old in age, ironically the inverse of today’s disruptors.
Isaiah 35 says to us, fearful in this time of rapid change, that an active faith brings good news. Through the strength of the power of God, we are told that fear can be confronted. Old versus new is likened to dry versus hydrated.
Isaiah’s message to the ‘faithful remnant of Israel’ has become our story through our faith in Christ. We daily need water in the wilderness to strengthen our weary knees and our faith.
The saving promise spoken by Isaiah 35:3-7 is also a task for us. We are to spread the hope and joy of that promise. As we counter fear, we enable the blind to see, the deaf to hear and those with dodgy knees and hips to “leap like a deer”.
In NSW and QLD, communities and families are struggling with the effects of the long drought. As we reach out to them in companionship, empathy and care, we seek to make them feel less alone and fearful.
Take this Taize chant to others today: ‘In the Lord I’ll be ever thankful, in the Lord I will rejoice! Look to God, do not be afraid; lift up your voices: the Lord is near, lift up your voices: the Lord is near.’
We can become disrupters this Advent - listening and encouraging those who need hope and joy in their lives.
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3 With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands,
and encourage those who have weak knees.
4 Say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, and do not fear,
for your God is coming to destroy your enemies.
He is coming to save you.”
5 And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind
and unplug the ears of the deaf.
6 The lame will leap like a deer,
and those who cannot speak will sing for joy!
Springs will gush forth in the wilderness,
and streams will water the wasteland.
7 The parched ground will become a pool,
and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land.
Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish
where desert jackals once lived.