This week’s reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah is taken from the opening of the second section of the sayings. Up to this point the book’s focus has been on the consequences that face the people of God as they turn away from caring for one another, caring for the Creation, and following God’s way for them. That first section ends with the death of King Hezekiah, a complicated figure who tried to find a way forward in a difficult moment of the people’s history. This second section is written to people in exile and defeat.
God is reminding them, and us, that God has acted to save the people, to restore them to the land, to fulfill the promises made to their ancestors. In the bleak moment when these words were first written, that memory and those promises must have seemed very distant.
In our day, when we face pandemic that is overwhelming our nation’s health care system, when we see signs of global climate change accelerating, it’s hard to hear these promises too. But they’re just as true now as they were then. God will act. There will be a return and a restoration. We have reason to hope even though others may despair.
And it’s the role of Church in our day to make that proclamation, to carry these good tidings to those who are losing heart.