In my Century lectionary column for this week, I focused on the reading from Isaiah 65. It’s a text I find baffling, frustrating and hopeful. If space were limitless, here are some other things I might have included.
In elevated, beautiful language God promises to create new heavens and a new earth. The problems and pain, the injustice and hunger, the longing and the loneliness—all will be vanquished! This image of predators and prey happily coexisting will appear again in the Isaiah text for Advent 2, and in Advent 3’s Isaiah passage there will be “no lion . . . nor ravenous beast” in God’s renewed Zion.
It’s just after 6 a.m. when I pull into the church parking lot. It’s still dark, and the steady rain makes me glad we decided to hold the sunrise service inside. I’m balancing a vase of daffodils for the communion table between my knees, and I’m hoping my good brown shoes are under the desk in my office, because they weren’t under my bed at home.
Each of the four Gospels’ depictions of the first encounter with the resurrected Christ suggests a different lens for perceiving the risen one. In Matthew, Christ’s resurrection looks like a theophany—earthquake and blazing light—and Christ appears suddenly and vividly to disciples on the run and on the mountain. In Luke, the risen Christ is first encountered as a peripatetic teacher and finally recognized in the breaking of bread. Mark apparently included no straightforward account of the risen Christ at all.
And in the Gospel of John, Christ rises from the ground in a springtime garden.