Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Prophet of Advent: 4th Tuesday-B

Read Isaiah 49:13-18

Growing up in the 'Deep South' of the United States, it seems that the only time I heard the prophets in a positive way was at Christmas, with either Isaiah (WonderfulCounselour . . .) or Micah (But you, Bethlehem Ephratha . . . ) being read.

On all other occasions, if the prophets were read in church, it was to warn us (of God's impending doom), to scare us (because God was coming to beat us), to urge us to repent (or else God will forget about us), to remind us to do good deeds.

After all, I remember being told, God is up in heaven keeping account of every word I speak, every thought I had, every thing I did. Indeed, God kept a ledger. There was that golden-covered, tooled with fine leather book into which the names of all the good folks went; and there was that tattered, ink-stained, much-thumbed-through thick journal where God listed all the bad things people did (especially you, Thom!).

And then, one day I ran across this wonderful passage from Isaiah (which I hope you have read!).

Forget us? How can God forget - that would be like a mother not kissing the skinned knees of her son; that would be like a father not sitting up late at night until his daughter comes home from her date!

Write down our names? Yes, God does that.

But not in any book - good or bad. God is not an accountant, God is a lover. And so, our names are written on the palms of God's hands. Not in a book that can be lost, or shelved, or given away, but in the one place where God will always see us, right next to the scars of the One who came to set us free from fears, from doubts, from death, from sin.


Our names are written in the palms of your hands, Compassionate God. What better reason do we have to sing for joy and to break forth into carols of praise? In Jesus' name, we pray.

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

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