Open your umbrella if you plan to pray for rain- Thursday, 3rd week in Advent – Isaiah 54: 1-10

Open your umbrella if you plan to pray for rain- Thursday, 3rd week in Advent – Isaiah 54: 1-10

Separation from the one you love is never easy and that separation is even more painful when you have to make a choice to stay away from the one you love because of their infidelity. The people of Israel had been the unfaithful spouse of Yahweh and finally Yahweh separated himself from his beloved people, Israel. We know that period of separation to be called as the exile. For seventy years the people of Israel lived in Babylon. They were separated from land and home, from relatives and friends and from cult and the temple.

Chapter 54 follows the narrative of the Suffering servant; a text read each year on Good Friday. The suffering of the servant is not only in the wounds he bore in his body (54:4-5) but even more the pain he suffered in his heart 54:8. The text of today forms part of the second book of Isaiah. The people of Israel were now free to go back to their homeland; the Persian Empire had routed the Babylonians. The prophet, in announcing this news of great joy, (Isaiah 40:1) now wants the hearts of his people to hope in a new beginning and even more in a new relationship with Yahweh.

The tenderness of God is now out on display for all to see. Even though Yahweh is without fault and has an errant spouse in his people Israel, it is Yahweh who is apologizing. “For a brief moment I abandoned you but with great compassion I will gather you.” ( Isaiah 54:7). The God who ‘hid his face now renews his everlasting love and compassion.’ Harkening to the promise he had made to Noah, (Genesis 8:21) to never destroy the earth again, he swears (verse 8) that even if the mountains may fall and the hills turn to dust, his steadfast love will never depart from them.

It is in this context that Yahweh now promises a vision of hope to his people. He wants them to be ready for the great goodness he will pour into their lives. However, it is for the people to now show their faith in God’s promises by demonstrating that faith in action. Yahweh asks his people to “enlarge the site of their tent”, “to stretch the curtains back and make room for more space” and not to “hold back the length of the cords while strengthening the stakes of their tents.” In short, God wants to pour into his people’s lives blessing upon blessing but they need to demonstrate the same by living out their faith in action.

Many years ago, in a draught ridden diocese, the people and priests decided to gather in large numbers on a day to pray and fast for rain. The bishop who was to lead the prayer walked to the podium, looked at the crowd and asked them one question. “Where are your umbrellas?” Like the people of Israel, we too have been forgiven and God wants to pour his love into our lives full measure, pressed down. However, if we believe that God has forgiven us and wants to pour his love in our homes then we need to demonstrate that not just in words but in our actions which reflect the faith we profess….and therein lies our advent teaching.

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