What's Tony Thinking

The Lord Delights in You

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Several of you expressed appreciation for my reflection last Sunday on the lesson from the prophet Isaiah. So I thought I would do another, as again the Old Testament reading for this Sunday, January 16, comes from the prophet Isaiah. Today it is Isaiah, chapter 62, verse 1 to 5.

Here’s a bit, from verses 3 and 4:

“You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. 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 . . . as a bridegroom rejoices over the bride.”

“For the Lord delights in you . . .” Could that possibly be true? Yes. Yes. Yes.

We were downtown in Seattle yesterday. We went to the Seattle Art Museum to see the special exhibit of the work of the pioneer photographer, Imogene Cunningham. A wonderful exhibit. After leaving SAM we walked in the Pike Street Market.

There in the Market a street preacher was holding forth with a bullhorn. He had a big sign that said, “Ask Me Why You Deserve to Go to Hell,” complete with tongues of flame. I guess he thinks we are all really, really bad and need someone to tell us that.

After years of pastoral ministry, and life, I have a different sense about where most of us are and the word we need to hear. I think it is far more ┬ácommon that we are berating ourselves, finding fault more or less constantly with ourselves, beating up on ourselves. We tell ourselves that we are inadequate in a thousand ways. We remind ourselves of our mistakes, our failures, our sins. “Look, you did it again . . .”

The needed message is that of Isaiah to the Hebrew people who thought they had been forgotten and forsaken . . . “The Lord delights in you.” “The Lord delights in you.”

Not the Lord delights in you if and when you get your act together, when you are a winner, get in buff shape or enjoy fantastic relationships with every member of your family. No, it’s not an if/ then. Not, if you excel in every way, then I will kind of like you a little, maybe, sorta.

It is straight out: “The Lord delights in you.” Really. Wholly. With the blemishes and the failures . . . all the regrets and confusion, and all the other crap you and I are hauling around. “You shall no longer be called ‘Forsaken’ . . . the Lord delights in you.” I suspect we are much more prepared to hear and accept the accusatory and condemning voice than the voice of grace, mercy and love.

This Isaiah passage inspired a song that I really love, titled “I Will Change Your Name.” Here’s a link to a version sung by the Nebblett Family. I hope you enjoy listening to it.

We get the idea that our job in life is “to make a name for ourselves,” which generally leads to all kinds of foolishness and problems. No, our new name, a new being and reality, come as a gift of God’s grace, of Christ working in us. And it comes to us, often, when we are in the depths, the depths of despair, of self-recrimination, and self-loathing.

You shall no longer be called “Desolate.” You shall be called, “My Delight.” You.

I’m guessing that the many present uncertainties, loss and multiple overwhelmings of our present time has left more than a few of us feeling now or at some point, “forsaken” . . . “desolate.” If so, here is the word of God for you, for me, “The Lord delights in you.” Really.

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