For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating; for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people; no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it, or the cry of distress. —Isaiah 65:17–19
I invite you to entertain for a moment this poem and let it seep into your bones, and into your heart, and into your vision. God speaks: “New heaven, new earth, new Jerusalem.” It will be a world of rejoicing when the newness comes. And you know why? Heaven and earth will rejoice because in that new world wrought by God, there will be no more the sound of weeping, no more homeless folks to moan, no more broken folk to whimper, no more terrorized folk to cry out. Heaven and earth will rejoice, because in that new world wrought by God there will be no more infant mortality, no more infants who live but a few days, and no more old people who will die too young or live too feebly or continue as a shell while the life is gone. Heaven and earth will rejoice, because in that new world wrought by God there will be no more usurpation of peoples’ homes. Those who build will stay around to inhabit, those who plant will survive to harvest and enjoy their produce. No more people being taxed out of their homes, no more losing their vulnerable homes to the right of eminent domain, no more rapacious seizure by war. When the newness comes, every person will live safely under a vine and fig tree, safe, unafraid, at peace, with no more destructive threats or competitive anxieties. Heaven and earth will rejoice, because in that new world wrought by God, God will be attentive. God will be like a mother who hears and answers in the night, knowing before we call who is needed and what is needed. And we shall never be left alone again. The poem is outrageous. The new world of God is beyond our capacity and even beyond our imagination. It does not seem possible. In our fatigue, our self-sufficiency, and our cynicism, we deeply believe that such promises could not happen here. Such newness is only poetic fantasy. In Advent, however, we receive the power of God that lies beyond us. This power is the antidote to our fatigue and cynicism. It is the gospel resolution to our spent self-sufficiency, when we are at the edge of our coping. It is the good news that will overmatch our cynicism that imagines there is no new thing that can enter our world.
Outrageous God, outflank our weary Christmas with the Advent miracle of a power that lies beyond us. May we receive this power, this new vision, which would set us free to live boldly into your dream for the world. Amen.
Throughout Advent we invite you to join us as we prayerfully prepare for Christ’s coming at Christmas with daily readings from Walter Brueggemann’s Devotions for Advent: Celebrating Abundance. They will be posted here daily with permission from the author, but we invite you to click the link to order your own copy.