Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild animals will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself so that they might declare my praise. (Isaiah 43:18-21)
There are two words in Hebrew that relate to the concept of forgetting. One is to “cover up” and the other is to “blot out.” This phrase in Isaiah is the latter—not just to have the memory covered, but to be truly free from it.
One Sunday morning, I was telling a story in Church School, a story that recalled the prophecy of Isaiah that there will be a day when all will join at a plentiful feast, and all of the tears will be wiped from their eyes (Isaiah 25:8). One child asked the question without pause, “Do you think that day is actually coming?” I didn’t know what to say, I was stunned because the child named one of my fears that I was not yet ready to admit to God—that in the midst of all that I see in the world of pain, greed, loss, and exploitation, I wonder if the prophet can be trusted. Even deeper, I wonder if God can be trusted to fulfill the promises made, to be the One who will wipe away all of the tears from our eyes.
Church is a place where we can bring some of the toughest questions to God and one another and know that we won’t someone how break the Church by doing so. Most weeks it isn’t my attempts at personal piety that feel like enough. It’s knowing that at the Eucharistic feast, I join your faith with mine, and our faith with Christ’s, and Christ’s with the whole communion of saints who have ever lived and died. We each need to be fed the bread of heaven to be given the grace that God’s kingdom is coming even when messages seem to point otherwise.
Whatever your desert has been since last Easter: Transitions. Illness. Loneliness. Fear. Doubt. Loss. Grief. Exhaustion. Admit it, so that you can be free from it. Resist the urge to cover it up, because that is where it will control you. Let yourself become open like a child. Be truly free from the former things so you are ready for God’s new thing—a celebration so incredible that even the ostriches and jackals will lead us in praise.
Appointed readings for today: Isaiah 43:16-21, Psalm 126, John 12:1-8