"Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the briar shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the Lord, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off." (Isaiah 55:13)
We began this short season of Pre-Lent by pointing out that it is a brief pause before the journey of Lent, and that Lent itself symbolizes the journey of God's people from captivity to freedom. Let's focus on this for a few moments. If life is a journey, what is the destination? Where is our Christian life supposed to lead us?
A lot of people might answer simply by saying, "Heaven," but that doesn't really answer the question. Heaven sometimes gets portrayed as a place where a bunch of translucent-looking people sit around on clouds, playing harps. That is simply not the future that awaits us as Christians. Freedom from sin and freedom from death does not mean freedom from the body, or freedom from the earth.
What we have been promised is resurrection, a return to bodily life after death. What we have been promised is not just heaven, but a new heaven and a new earth. What we have been promised is nothing short of new creation.
This is what Isaiah is getting at when he writes about cypress and myrtle taking the place of thorn and briar. He is not writing about things as they should be, but things as they will be. This is a new creation, with the consequences of the Fall erased. It is not some far-off place that is inaccessible; it is where we will live.
God's work of creating anew began with the coming of Jesus, the Incarnation of God on earth. God became Man to save mankind. The miracles of Jesus can all be seen as creation responding to the presence of the Creator. Jesus, who became flesh for us, was resurrected in the flesh. In His resurrection is the promise of resurrection for all who are baptized. In Christ, you are part of the new creation. In your Baptism you became a miracle of Jesus'.
When you were baptized you were created anew as a believer. In Baptism you took part in the death of Jesus, and because of your baptism, God has promised that you will be resurrected. Even now, you are new creation, even as you wait with the rest of the Church for the coming of Jesus, and the new heavens and the new earth.
Daily Lectionary: Job 15:1-23, 30-35; St. John 6:60-71
Questions or comments regarding the Reflections may be sent to the Rev. Mark Buetow, Reflections Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org.