This morning I woke to sunshine, despite the fact that my Google device assured me that there was no sun shining! It definitely was shining! I wandered down stairs and got into my usual routine of cats, coffee, candles, the 3 C’s, note the cats come first or there will be a mutiny! While making my coffee I decided that rather than listening to the Pray as You Go App, that today I would listen to the morning service on Radio 4. I do that occasionally. ,y mind was partly on that and partly on the Covenant Service that I was going to lead.
After the prayers and hymns came the first reading; Isaiah 62: 1-5, I hadn’t even looked at the lectionary readings for this week, but my ears pricked up, I know, woof!) when I heard the first line read, I know it off by heart, it was a reading given to me as a promise many years ago, and one I return to, this morning it was particularly powerful for me to hear. Here it is:
For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,
until her vindication shines out like the dawn,
and her salvation like a burning torch.
2 The nations shall see your vindication,
and all the kings your glory;
and you shall be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will give.
3 You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
4 You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate;
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
and your land Married;
for the Lord delights in you,
and your land shall be married.
5 For as a young man marries a young woman,
so shall your builder marry you,
and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice over you.
The images of bride and bridegroom had been problematic to read following my divorce, but today they came back to me with a different emphasis. The reminder that God will not give up, and has not given up on me was tangible! The verse that follows the passage verse 6 says this:
Upon your walls, O Jerusalem,
I have posted sentinels;
all day and all night
they shall never be silent.
I am conscious of having those sentinels surrounding me, people who have encouraged me, prayed for me and have pledged to continue to do so, a different version says they shall take no rest, I know I have folk from all over praying for me, the US, Australia and New Zealand are included, I am so grateful for this! Who am I to be called a crown of beauty, a diadem in the hand of the Lord? Well both nobody and me, when I was first given this about 30 years ago I was in a low place, feeling dejected and worthless and with very little self esteem. Now I know that we don’t go around cherry picking nice passages, and I also know that it is written about Zion, a whole community, and that the land itself is being spoken of, it was spoken at a particular time and to and for a particular place. That said I received it as a word for me ( yes very charismatic I know), and I continue to believe that sometimes the Holy Spirit speaks in this way, and who am I to dismiss it!
I needed the reminder and the reminder came, I am not rejected, I have not been forsaken, there is something more and something different for me to do, I have more to give. Anyone who has read my previous recent posts will understand how wonderful it was for me to hear those words this morning. I have been very down upon myself, questioning my worth, questioning my calling, questioning the institution of the church. I still am in many ways, but today I saw hope, heard the promise afresh and am quietly and slowly responding.
We sang “And Can it be” as a part of our Covenant Service this morning, I love that hymn, and often rejoice in the line “my chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose went forth and followed thee” , I can’t say that today the heaviness of the chains of the last few months has lifted, but it certainly shifted, and a certain lightness has come in its place. I am thankful today for the reminder- All will be well!
The photo below was posted by a friend of mine this morning, ,and I asked if I could use it, because in many ways it captures the essence of all that I have tried to express, light is breaking through, the journey onward is possible.
Photo Credit: Jeremy Timm