Friday, December 17, 2010

Completely Covered

A group in our congregation has been journeying through Blair Meeks' book, "Expecting the Unexpected" during the season of Advent. Each participant is invited to use the book as a daily devotional guide before coming together on Wednesday night for dinner and discussion. The book offers a wonderful opportunity to not only read scripture passages but to imagine a different reality based on scripture.

Part of today's assignment is to read Isaiah 57:14-24. Meeks then invites the reader to imagine the dwelling places of God that are mentioned in verse 15:

For thus says the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with those who are contrite and humble in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the humble,
and to revive the heart of the contrite.

As I took time to picture in my mind this morning the places where God dwells, my mind took me first to a high and lofty place in our city - the United States Capitol. It is in this place where 535 individuals have been entrusted with a significant amount of power. It is in this place where dreams can literally come to life, where captives can be released, where resources can be redistributed, and where justice can be done. As I thought about God hovering in this place, I said a prayer. I prayed that justice would be done this weekend as legislation is being discussed that allows all people to serve in our military, in particular. I then continued to pray but to also to praise God for dwelling in this high and lofty place.

My mind then went to the places where the contrite and humble dwell. I thought about all the places I pass in the early hours of the morning. I imagined the places where boxes are stacked and blankets are found in abundance - where unhoused people are sleeping even with snow on the ground and temperatures in the 20s. I imagined God dwelling in these places - but not for long - because I cannot imagine God dwelling there without wanting to do something about it. I also imagined God dwelling in the homes of people whose hearts are broken during this holiday season. I thought of people like my mom who mourn the loss of a loved one during Christmas. I thought of families who are entering the season for the first time without someone precious to them. I thought of all who are suffering because of a medical diagnosis, or a disease, or a loss of a job, or a broken relationship, or a loss of a home. I continued to pray but I also gave thanks to God for dwelling in these places.

God's presence cannot be contained in one space. There is not a physical tent big enough in which to hold God. God's hands are far more outstretched than any of us can imagine - and certainly wider than most of our bodies who are seeking to be the body of Christ. God's goodness reigns over all people in all places. And for that, I give thanks!

O Come, O Come Emmanuel and ransom the captives wherever they are on this day. Make your presence known in lofty places and make your presence known in the dark corners of the city. Where individuals are held captive to their power, help them to see the ways in which their power can set other captives free. Where individuals are held captive to sadness and depression, set upon them the dawn of a new day made possible through your love and mercy. Make your presence known in churches and make your presence known in city halls. Make your presence known on every street and in every building of this city. Help all who want to follow you to do our part in following you not only to the high and lofty places but also to those who are contrite and humble in spirit. O come, O come Emmanuel. Amen.

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