A Contemplation of Isaiah 29:18-20

Readings: Psalm 42; Isaiah 29:17-24; Acts 5:12-16

On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a scroll, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see.

The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord, and the neediest people shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.

For the tyrant shall be no more, and the scoffer shall cease to be…

Isaiah 29: 18-20, NRSV

Our longing each Advent for Emmanuel to come and free us from captivity will be fulfilled. Isaiah tells us so over and over. But is it true? Gloom and darkness still persist. People still remain in desperate need of physical and spiritual sustenance. Tyrants still reign. Scoffers and benders of truth still push their lies.

The poet Robert Frost knew despair and the beckoning of a snowy woods, lovely and deep, where he could escape from what had become for him a never-ending darkest evening of the year. Frost’s solution wasn’t easy. It was the resolution to continue on with life because he had promises to keep. There is no fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecies, of the promises the Holy One has given all generations, unless we keep the promises we make to each other, those promises we deeply need: love us, listen to us, lift us when we fall, forgive us when we fail.

Yes, the ancient promises are genuine. They are gifts. But no gift can unwrap itself. It takes resolution—and faith. We have miles to go before we sleep; but if we follow the Advent lights and journey together, we become the promise. And that’s cause for exultation.

Offered by Peter Trenouth, tai chi instructor, author, walking home to Bethlehem.

[Robert Frost, Stopping By Woods on a Snowy EveningRobert Frost’s Poems, New York: Washington Square Press, 1971, p. 194 (among other anthologies…]

[Three Rowhouses, 2018-2019, by Colin Fredrickson]

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I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

2 thoughts on “A Contemplation of Isaiah 29:18-20”

  1. Thanks, Peter. The Robert Frost poem fits so well with this passage – a wonderful connection that illuminates both. Peace, Johnna

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