Week of: April 7, 2019
Scripture: Isaiah 43:16-21
The wild animals will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself so that they might declare my praise.
(Isaiah 43:20-21, NRSV)
The Old Testament readings for the Revised Common Lectionary, Year C, offer up a familiar theme. Isaiah 43 follows this theme — God journeys with us. Isaiah reminds us that God has journeyed with Israel through the sea, the wilderness, and the desert.
God has been with Israel, but God also will do a new thing. Isaiah's warning about not remembering the former things may be helpful, because Israel, when venturing into the unknown, often looked backward and longed for the past — even when the past was unhealthy. God reminds both them and us that God will be with us in the new thing that is being done. God will guide us through the wilderness and provide us with water when we need it.
The proper response to God's presence in our lives is praise. How do we teach people to praise through the arts, far beyond cursory praise? Isaiah reminds us that we were created to praise God (as does the Westminster Catechism). Can we ring with joyful hearts? Can our voices swell with thanksgiving? Can we dance with purpose and passion? To do so praises God with our lips and our lives and can inspire those in our congregations to do the same, celebrating God's presence and activity in the world.
God, just as your creative Spirit hovered over the waters, may it move among us. May it cause us to express our thanks and praise to you, because you continue to remain faithful to us. Thanks be to you! Amen!
First United Methodist Church
Development Coordinator, The Fellowship
Photo:The choir sings Richard Smallwood's "Total Praise" during worship at Music & Worship Arts Week 2018. (Fellowship photo by Daniel Craig.)