Working at home with three very small children isn’t easy. In fact, most days, it’s impossible. Which is why every week I carve out a few hours to sit at a local coffee shop in order to spend some focused time working as a pastor.
As I sit here today, drinking my third cup of coffee and trying desperately to focus, I begin to hear multiple conversations around me about our current president and his odd gesture in serving a championship football team fast food during their visit to the White House. This is not a new story to me - I saw the pictures as I read the news this morning - boxes and boxes of fast food served on silver platters… we can’t get enough of the imagery.
In the midst of this, I am reading Isaiah 60-62 (specifically Isaiah 62), trying to prepare a few thoughts for Sunday morning. I turn my headphones up louder, attempting to drown out the commentary on the current state of our world based on fast food and golden candelabras… I read the passage again and let it wash over my soul. These beautiful words are filled with hope and expectation… spoken by a prophet to a people who have been devastated. Here, the prophet cries out of deep desperation and longing for Yahweh to move heaven and earth and intervene on behalf of his people. (In the previous chapters of Isaiah, Yahweh had promised to rescue and restore Israel - the promises had been heard, but not seen.) And so the Prophet stood up as Israel’s intercessor. He was holding Yahweh to His word. He was confident Yahweh would act according to his promises. But waiting did not mean sitting by idly.
As I consider the passion of this prophet, my mind mulls over the promises God has made for us today. The main one being that through Jesus, God is last work rescuing and restoring the world. But what does this mean for our culture who spends most of its days obsessing over our political climate and drama of the day? We live in a culture of excess as may be best represented by the photographs in today's bizarre fast food news story. And while these prayers resonate on some level, I know they were meant to convey something deeper.
Who in our world needs these prayers the most? The poor. The oppressed. The immigrant. The refugee. The desperate. The invisible. Those crossing the borders into lands of overabundance hoping for asylum and safety for their children, only to have their children taken away. Those who are living in fear of being the next village to experience drone attacks or chemical weapons. Those who hold their starving children as the life slowly fades from their eyes. We push the imagery away - refusing to allow it to penetrate our hearts and draw us into empathy for the human beings experiencing such devastation.
Today our news feeds are filled with stories of Brexit, Russian collusion, and fast food at the White House. Many of us have been lulled to sleep as we wait to see the fruition of God’s promises to us. All the while, the world is aching for God to move heaven and earth and fulfill his promises. Yemen is still facing an unprecedented famine. Some estimates say that nearly 100,000 children under the age of 5 have died from starvation in the past three years. The imagery is devastating. Look it up. And set that imagery against the imagery of fast food on silver platters.
Where are the prophets in our midst, drawing our eyes to these things? How do we stay alert and awake enough to continue to advocate for that the most desperate among us? How do we call the rest of the world to attention? Let us pray that we would not find ourselves caught sitting by idly, waiting for the to see the promises heard, but not yet fulfilled. Let us pray with the passion and concern of the Prophet in Isaiah… and in doing so, may our hearts be awakened to the world around us and may we be more empathetic today than we were yesterday.