By: Jill Alventosa-Brown, Pastor of Congregational Care and Older Adults
This passage from Isaiah has special meaning to me. When I was hearing my call to ministry, this passage, especially as quoted by Jesus in the 4th chapter of Luke, resonated with how I wanted to be used by God. Jesus, at the beginning of his public ministry in Luke, tells those gathered in the synagogue in Nazareth that he has been anointed to preach, teach, heal and liberate people. The people in exile needed to hear the good news that Isaiah was proclaiming and the people surrounding Jesus also needed to know that God had not forgotten them during the Roman occupation. I still believe this is a word we need to hear in our time. We still have poor people who need good news; we still have brokenhearted people in need of mending; we still have people who are either physically or spiritually captive; we still have prisoners; those who need justice and we still have people who mourn. Whether we are bearers of the good news of Jesus Christ or the recipients, when we are set free to love; when we are healed from the physical, emotional and spiritual wounds of the past; we can, through this process, become trees showing off the glory of God in our lives. Isaiah names these recipients of God’s deliverance as oaks of righteousness: a sign that God is not done with us and is still in the business of building and rebuilding people, places and lives. In this Advent season, we are invited to consider how we are becoming the oaks of righteousness that give shade and shelter and display God’s glory for all to see.
O God, pour out anew your spirit on us so that we might take up the ministry that Christ accepted and thereby carry out your work to bring light and hope and freedom to your people all over the world. In the name of Christ we pray, Amen.