[This podcast was first published on 5 December 2017]
Welcome to Tuesday’s Podcast. My name’s Bryony and it’s great to be with you this week. Today’s reading is Isaiah 9 verse 3. Remember to keep listening at the end of this podcast to hear the whole reading for the week!
So, verse 3:
You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder.
We thought a bit about the context of this week’s readings yesterday but to recap, this is a prophecy given by the Prophet Isaiah to the people of Israel and Judah during a not-too-easy part of their history. The passage speaks into the situation they were in, but it was also a description of the coming messiah, Jesus.
Today in just one verse the word ‘rejoice’ is repeated 3 times, and the word ‘joy’ is also thrown in for good measure! It is saying when the Messiah, when Jesus arrives, there is reason to rejoice, as much as people celebrating their harvest or the end of battle. I’m not sure about you but I am yet to rejoice over any post-battle plunder?! But I do slightly more resonate with the image of harvest, the couple (and I really do mean only a couple) of times I’ve succeeded to grow something in my garden I have definitely rejoiced. The strawberries certainly taste sweeter when you’ve gone to war with the slugs and won – hey, maybe they are my post-battle plunder!
The thing with growing fruit or vegetables is you can do what you can do but in the end you have to stand back and let the soil, the sun and the rain do their jobs. I rejoice when something flowers in my garden not because of my skill but because in some way it’s a tiny picture of grace! I did my bit but then nature took it in its own hands and was kind to me.
We rejoice when things grow, when situations change, where there is hope where there once wasn’t. We rejoice even more when we know that change wasn’t purely down to us and our hard work but to God showing us grace, favour and love.
This verse got me thinking about whether I’m rejoicing enough in my life? We have friends who wanted to have the value of ‘celebration’ in their marriage and so, practically, that meant always having a bottle of bubbly in the fridge. I love this…not just because I do enjoy a glass of something sparkling, but because the heart behind it is an expectation that there WILL be reasons to celebrate, that rejoicing will be a default not an exception, and the expectation that the fridge will need replenishing regularly.
How are we building rejoicing into our lives? Do we celebrate the victories big and small? When’s the last time we popped a bottle of bubbly? As we move through Advent we are reminded of the heavenly party that was thrown one night 2000 years ago. A party that celebrated the arrival of a baby who would give mankind an eternal reason to rejoice. So let’s aim to rejoice more or, as the prophet put it, to ‘increase our joy’. Whatever your day looks like today, why not look for one thing you could celebrate: a work target reached, a child’s achievement (no matter how small), the fact you stayed in your budget this month or simply that today was better than yesterday! Let’s pray for our day…
God, thank you that in the birth of your son we have the ultimate reason to rejoice. Thank you also that you give us many good things, help us be a people who celebrate quickly and show your world what it is to rejoice. Amen.
READING: Isaiah 9:2-7
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and for ever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.