How often during this never-ending season of waiting for the pandemic to be declared behind us have I used the excuse, “I’ll deal with [whatever I’m avoiding] when this is over!”? I’m almost nostalgic about the days when we still imagined that the disruption of life was truly only temporary, perhaps a week or two. But it isn’t over. And, after reading the latest public health updates, this doesn’t even seem like something within reach, now or ever.
Last week, Anne and I traveled to northern California so that we could gather with family as we attended her uncle’s funeral. He had lived most of his adult life in and around Lake County, a place that, like his North Dakotan childhood, is built on a vibrant agricultural economy. Like so much of this world, the seasonal rhythms of planting and harvest define much of life.
Five years ago, singer/songwriter John Hermanson released an album called “Isaiah” which includes a collection of songs inspired by the words of the Old Testament prophet of the same name. The prophet’s words and the coming season of Advent have been linked ever since the church began its practice of preparing for the joy of the incarnation celebrated on Christmas. Isaiah speaks to the already and not yet qualities of God’s presence. Similarly, John’s music leads its listeners into a deeper contemplation of God’s activity, both that happening now and that still longed for.
God has deeply blessed each of us through creation and has reached out in love through Jesus so that we might remain connected to a life-giving promise. God works through this church to continue delivering on this promise of never-ending love and has extended an invitation to each of us to participate in this bold mission.
It’s an old and established axiom for those in public relations and marketing that, “sex sells.” Even using that phrase at the outset of this devotion is likely to increase the engagement of readers for this very piece. There’s something else that “sells” just as well or better and it’s a trap we fall into, seemingly without fail. And now that I have your attention and have you wondering what could be so attention-grabbing, I suspect you’re much more likely to continue reading…