Advent Expectations: Ancient Ruins

Isaiah 61

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion— to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of theLord, to display his glory.

They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, foreigners shall till your land and dress your vines; but you shall be called priests of the Lord, you shall be named ministers of our God; you shall enjoy the wealth of the nations, and in their riches you shall glory. Because their shame was double, and dishonor was proclaimed as their lot, therefore they shall possess a double portion; everlasting joy shall be theirs. For I the Lord love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.

***

It looks familiar.

The lights
The songs
The words.

They shine hollow.

I mine the ancient ruins
for some semblance of life
pieces of vessels that held familiar

stories are strewn about empty
roads and crumbling walls
frame the horizon as dusk rises

and remains
in my hands, I turn them over and over
seeking out the miracle.

Joy eludes me.
I persist. The end of this
season is always a beginning.

It promises to be lovely and new.

I sometimes struggle with the theme of joy in this season. I’m hungry for it. But, in a strange way, I know I do have it and not just in the obligatory-happiness kind of way, but in the way it surprises me here and there like a shock of cold air on a wintry day or when I hear some heartfelt melody that resonates in me. I guess that’s faith, too. I’m thankful for it.

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