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Isaiah 61:1-7 (NIV)
The Year of the Lord’s Favor
61 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. 4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. 5 Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. 6 And you will be called priests of the Lord, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. 7 Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.
When you watch the news the broadcasters you watch are not the ones actually doing the noteworthy things that make up the “news”. They are simply delivering the news. They are the medium through which the news about what is happening in the community or the world is communicated to you. In this passage, the prophet Isaiah is declaring good news. He is not the one that is doing the noteworthy things of God. Instead, he is much like a broadcaster who is declaring the good and amazing things that God is doing! When Jesus shows up and begins his ministry it is this passage that he says, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:16-21). Jesus is the good news. Jesus is what God is doing. He lifts up the poor, heals the broken, and sets prisoners free. He is the presence and fullness of God’s favor upon the earth to all people. Why is that good news? Because it means that fixing this world does not depend on us! It is something that God is doing. God is doing noteworthy and amazing things. We can have faith that he loves us and is working out his plan in this world and in us. While we humans do have the capacity to do good deeds and treat others with love and kindness, we still continue to hurt those we love dearly and do things on this earth that destroy life and make the world a worse place to live in. We need a savior and we need God to do what only he can. That first Christmas was just the beginning! Let us pray: Heavenly Father, we praise you as the shepherds did that first Christmas Eve for sending your Son to be our Savior and Lord. Give us faith to trust that you are working in us and in our world and help us to share your good news with all those around us. In Jesus’ holy name. Amen.