Isaiah 35:4-7a (NRSV)
Verse 4Say to those who are of a fearful heart, "Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you."
Verse 5Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; Verse 6then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; Verse 7the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
Years ago, I was walking out of a parking ramp hand in hand with my (then) little daughter, Charlie. I unthinkingly led us under the raised gate-arm of the entrance. It came down fast and hard without my seeing it. I awoke on the ground with Charlie sobbing over me, “Daddy!” I assured her I was ok and we hugged. She was terrified but calmed.
When Isaiah says, “Here is your God.” It is more profound than my assurance to Charlie. It means that God is pure, loving presence—in any and every circumstance; even the most terrible. We can be calmed in that presence and assurance.
Yet God’s loving presence is not without fire. Vengeance and wrath can be how love manifests. I think of how my grandmother angrily drove away boys bullying a more vulnerable boy. This is loving wrath; but wrath without love simply does harm.
You are loving presence always here. Your love made us for love and to love. Your love is fire to save and to heal. Amen.