Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Break forth in Singing

How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice;
together they sing for joy;
for eye to eye they see
the return of the Lord to Zion.
Break forth together into singing,
you waste places of Jerusalem,
for the Lord has comforted his people;
he has redeemed Jerusalem.
The Lord has bared his holy arm
before the eyes of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth shall see
the salvation of our God.
Depart, depart, go out from there;
touch no unclean thing;
go out from the midst of her; purify yourselves,
you who bear the vessels of the Lord.
For you shall not go out in haste,
and you shall not go in flight,
for the Lord will go before you,
and the God of Israel will be your rear guard. Isaiah 52:7-12

We arrived in Boston last night after sunset, with snow piled high around. After settling in we walked to the harbor side for some dinner and found the restaurant closed. And yet the beauty of the city at night, somehow especially in winter, took my breath away. A mountain top experience at sea level and maybe below. Standing gazing at the harbor and this city which I treasure, I couldn't help but give thanks to God for all that life has to offer, especially the surprises and the laughter when things turn upside down.

We hear these words from Isaiah, spoken by the prophet to a broken people, a people whose lives had been shattered because of human greed and deceit. They were trying to be faithful and were torn apart over and over again. And yet God's words are for them and for us - The Lord will go before you and God will be your rear God. We are surrounded by God's love and protection and reminded of it in the skylines' beauty and in the faces of our beloved families.

May all of us who face challenging times remember that God goes before us and is our rear guard, today and every day. We are never alone despite the challenges, surprises and disappointments we face. May we all remember to look around and see God before and behind us every step of the way.

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