EP: Psalms 29, 98; Isaiah 66:18-23; Romans 15:7-13
I am so excited by the richness of today's readings! We have the baton being passed to Joshua, after Moses' death (which I have always found quite sad, Moses' not being allowed into the Promised Land). Hebrews is up next with a brief listing of prophets and their amazing work, followed by the majestic words Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us..... And then John says Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. For EP we begin with Isaiah telling us God's promise of gathering all nations and tongues and that God will make new heavens and the new earth....... ending with a part of the letter to the Romans saying May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the peace of the Holy Spirit.
This continuum of faith we are all on is wound through all of these readings. The hard truth of Moses not seeing the final fruits of his life's work tells us to be joyful in what we can and do accomplish, knowing that our efforts will be carried on by those who follow us. Hebrews does the same, showing the works of the prophets who have gone before and urging us to carry on that torch of faith, passing it to those who have yet to start the race. John is telling us that our work is never done, and that although pruning may be painful, more fruit comes from those efforts. Isaiah and Paul's letter to Rome give voice to our hope that there is a joy in this building of Jesus' kingdom, one bit at a time, and none of our efforts are ever lost.
This journey we are all on, although perhaps tedious and seemingly pointless at times, is really something much different. We are all part of something much larger, stretching back beyond our understanding and forward to something we will never see, in our human lives. But being a willing part of this ancient continuum, sharing the joy of God's embrace with those we are gifted to have part of our journey, is, and must be, enough.
On this last day of the Christmas Season, as we embark into Epiphany with tomorrow's celebration, these readings give voice to how we should think about and remember these sacred (and short) 12 days. Happy Christmas-tide.
Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.