May 4, 2021
Isaiah 32:9-11; 14-18 (NIV)
Donna E. Tisdale
First UMC, Cleveland, TN
The Women of Jerusalem
9 You women who are so complacent,
rise up and listen to me;
you daughters who feel secure,
hear what I have to say!
10 In little more than a year
you who feel secure will tremble;
the grape harvest will fail,
and the harvest of fruit will not come.
11 Tremble, you complacent women;
shudder, you daughters who feel secure!
Strip off your fine clothes
and wrap yourselves in rags.
14 The fortress will be abandoned,
the noisy city deserted;
citadel and watchtower will become a wasteland forever,
the delight of donkeys, a pasture for flocks,
15 till the Spirit is poured on us from on high,
and the desert becomes a fertile field,
and the fertile field seems like a forest.
16 The Lord’s justice will dwell in the desert,
his righteousness live in the fertile field.
17 The fruit of that righteousness will be peace;
its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.
18 My people will live in peaceful dwelling places,
in secure homes,
in undisturbed places of rest.
If you look up the word complacent in Merriam Webster, the definition reads, “marked by self-satisfaction, especially accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies .” In our focus scripture, Isaiah chides the women of Jerusalem for their complacency and warns of evil days to come.
My guess is that early last year many of us were at least somewhat complacent. Our churches were going along as expected, maybe even growing. We had plans for more new programs and greater outreach. We thought we would continue to pursue what we assumed God wanted us to do.
Then the pandemic suddenly arrived, with illness and death as well as the disruptive changes and restrictions that came with the virus. In addition, we faced election year and the upset, anger and ugliness of the accompanying political campaign.
Now, MAYBE we have come through the worst of that era and are possibly approaching a semblance of “normal.” But are we in danger of becoming complacent again? Many folks seem to assume that we can now “go back” to things the way they were. However, health authorities warn us to continue precautions, and politicians don’t seem to be getting along any better than they were a year ago.
What about our churches? What have we learned from the hard experiences of this past year about those programs and plans we expected to build our community of faith? Are they what we need now to make our work blessed?
In the passage from Isaiah, the prophet tells the women of Jerusalem what it will take to make things blessed: when the Spirit is poured on us from on high. That is what will bring justice and righteousness, peace, quietness and confidence. Imagine people in your town living in peaceful and secure homes with “undisturbed places of rest.”
Let us listen to James and pray for our congregations the wisdom that will bring peace, consideration, mercy, fairness and the other qualities that bring the harvest of righteousness James describes. Pray for the pouring out of the Spirit on our churches.Prayer
Dear Lord, grant to each of us the humility to recognize our need for you, the wisdom to discern your will as you reveal it to us and the courage to do your will with the strength of your spirit. Amen.