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July 8, 2020

“Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the briar shall come up the myrtle; and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” Isaiah 55:13

What if the entire landscape suddenly changed? What if the thorns and briers that snag and scratch us were replaced with luxurious trees pointing toward heaven?

This is the image that Isaiah puts before the people in exile. Their current landscape is littered with disaster and danger, but God has a new future in mind. They shall one day soon go home. God’s grace and power will shape both their immediate and their final future.

What is our entire landscape changed? Yesterday, I finished re-reading Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates. This book is a letter to the author’s son, a beautiful and heart-rending exploration of what it means to be Black in the United States. He unmasks the realities of our how nation was built and organized by the “Dreamers,” “those who believe they are white,” upon the bodies of Black people.

While Coates writes to his son that it will be his task to make meaning as a Black person in America, the “Dream” can only finally be undone by white people; it will only be undone when those who believe they are white recognize that their false dream is oppressive and, finally even to themselves, destructive.

But what if this landscape changed? Coates does not put his faith in God, but that does not mean people of God can’t learn from him. What if we committed to pulling up the briers and thorns and planting myrtle and cypress trees? What if we looked beyond memorials erected in hate to the everlasting memorial of the cross, planted on Calvary’s hill as a declaration of God’s love to this world and its people?

Let us look to the One who took these thorns as his crown so that we could truly, for the first time, really live. Let’s commit to the hard, holy work of changing the landscape. God will do this in the final future, when the first shall be last and the last shall be first. We can get a head start on this work today.

Be well, friends. You are loved.

God of growth, you tend the earth and nourish your people. Remove all that is harmful within us; clear the ground in front of us; send forth your Word and let it return to you with an abundant harvest. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Image: Thorns on a Rose, by Ingrid Taylar, used with permission.

From → COVID-19

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