Let yourself become open to God and the knowledge that comes from the Word. Ask God for peace at this time.
Isaiah 24:1-16a (NRSV)
Now the LORD is about to lay waste the earth and make it desolate,
and he will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants.
And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest;
as with the slave, so with his master;
as with the maid, so with her mistress;
as with the buyer, so with the seller;
as with the lender, so with the borrower;
as with the creditor, so with the debtor.
The earth shall be utterly laid waste and utterly despoiled;
for the LORD has spoken this word.
The earth dries up and withers,
the world languishes and withers;
the heavens languish together with the earth.
The earth lies polluted
under its inhabitants;
for they have transgressed laws,
violated the statutes,
broken the everlasting covenant.
Therefore a curse devours the earth,
and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt;
therefore the inhabitants of the earth dwindled,
and few people are left.
The wine dries up,
the vine languishes,
all the merry-hearted sigh.
The mirth of the timbrels is stilled,
the noise of the jubilant has ceased,
the mirth of the lyre is stilled.
No longer do they drink wine with singing;
strong drink is bitter to those who drink it.
The city of chaos is broken down,
every house is shut up so that no one can enter.
There is an outcry in the streets for lack of wine;
all joy has reached its eventide;
the gladness of the earth is banished.
Desolation is left in the city,
the gates are battered into ruins.
For thus it shall be on the earth
and among the nations,
as when an olive tree is beaten,
as at the gleaning when the grape harvest is ended.
They lift up their voices, they sing for joy;
they shout from the west over the majesty of the LORD.
Therefore in the east give glory to the LORD;
in the coastlands of the sea glorify the name of the LORD, the God of Israel.
From the ends of the earth we hear songs of praise,
of glory to the Righteous One.
When I think of Christmas time, I think of parties where colored lights are strung around the room and a decorated Christmas tree stands in the corner. The room is full of people decked out in their Christmas sweaters, drinking mulled wine, and singing along and dancing to “Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree” and other classics. It is full of color, life, and joy.
So when I read Isaiah’s description of the wine drying up, the music being silenced, and the jubilation being crushed, my once merry heart breathes a deep sigh of emptiness. All joy is gone, and the gladness is banished. What does a desolate city look like? It looks like a city with no joy, nothing to celebrate, no music to sing ,and no wine to drink. It looks like a dead party.
The creation is no place for a party when it lies polluted by unfaithful and destructive inhabitants who betray their basic relationship to the creation and Creator. Holy ground becomes waste ground, the whole world suffers, and the party is over.
I hope this Christmas season will remind you of the goodness of music, songs, friends and wine. May you give thanks for the gift of all God’s creations, and may you be a faithful steward of them.
Creative One, thank you for inviting us to be a part of your beautiful creation, for the ability to join in friendship with one another, and to sing songs and be merry. We confess that we treat this holy ground as waste ground, our brothers and sisters as enemies and opponents. We have been reckless and wasteful rather than faithful stewards. As we prepare to welcome you once more, may your Spirit show us how we can live faithfully in your world so that we may sing and dance in your presence. Amen.
Go with God.