A Reflection from Roberta Egli, a native Oregonian
The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the brokenhearted…
to comfort all who mourn;
to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
to bestow a garland of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
(Isaiah 61: 1,3)
I have found myself sharing the brokenhearted emoji frequently these past several weeks. I live in Eugene, Oregon which has become overwhelmed with wildfires following hurricane strength wind storm the night of September 7th. The closest fire to where I live is called the Holiday Farm fire and for several days my emergency alert notified me of evacuations updates. We have been safe but our hearts break for the many people who have lost not only their homes but their entire community. My heart also breaks in grief for the beautiful forest, streams and wildlife that have been decimated by the fires.
The Isaiah 61 scripture may be familiar to us but I was drawn to some new images as I read it in my devotion this morning. Isaiah shares that the Spirit of God sends us to bind up the brokenhearted, to comfort those who mourn, to bestow a garland of beauty instead of ashes. Brokenhearted, mourning, ashes…that is part of my everyday life these days.
I had just started walking outside several days prior to the fires after being housebound following my right knee replacement surgery in mid-August. The fires and resulting hazardous air from smoke and ash kept me inside for another week. When I first ventured out in ‘hazardous’ air after the fires, I was struck by the grey ash that covered everything. The ash even covers our springer spaniel Jack. His beautiful white/liver colored fur is now ashen grey.
As I have reflected on the call of Isaiah to bind up the brokenhearted, to bestow beauty rather than ashes, my initial thought is – what can I do? It is easy to get overwhelmed by all that has occurred in 2020. However, I have realized that what I can do is to hold space…hold space for grief…hold space to listen to the stories of those who have lost their homes…hold space without trying to ‘fix’ anything…hold space in compassion and love.
So my friends, that is what I am doing today and in the days to come trusting that as I hold space for the pain of this world, that God is with us in our pain. I realize that God is God and I am not. So this prayer from “A Wee Worship Book” (Wild Goose Worship Group: GIA Publications, Chicago. pg. 17-18) from the Iona community of Scotland resonates with me as I continue to follow Christ in the midst of our earth’s pain:
For all that God can do within us, for all that God can do without us,
THANKS BE TO GOD!
For all in whom Christ lived before us,for all in whom Christ lives beside us.
THANKS BE TO GOD!
For all the Spirit wants to bring us, for where the Spirit wants to send us,
THANKS BE TO GOD.
Listen, Christ has promised to be with us in the world as in our worship. We Go to Serve Christ. AMEN.
Grace and peace,
P.S. It is raining today (9-17-2020) as I post this! Thanks for your prayers and THANKS BE TO GOD!