The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me because God anointed me.
He sent me to preach good news to the poor, heal the heartbroken,
Announce freedom to all captives, pardon all prisoners.
God sent me to announce the year of his grace – a celebration of God's destruction of our enemies -
and to comfort all who mourn,
To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion, give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes,
Messages of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.
Rename them "Oaks of Righteousness" planted by God to display his glory.
They'll rebuild the old ruins, raise a new city out of the wreckage.
They'll start over on the ruined cities, take the rubble left behind and make it new.
You'll hire outsiders to herd your flocks and foreigners to work your fields,
But you'll have the title "Priests of God," honored as ministers of our God.
You'll feast on the bounty of nations, you'll bask in their glory.
Because you got a double dose of trouble and more than your share of contempt,
Your inheritance in the land will be doubled and your joy go on forever.
– Isaiah 61:1-7 (The Message)
Here we are, right between Christmas and New Year's. Some folks have put away the Christmas stuff, some folks are still holding onto Christmas and many (if not all) of us are hoping a praying for a better new year, for we really need a year of God's grace.
In this "in between" time, between the joy and excitement of Christmas the anticipation and hope for a better new year, the words that Jesus read from the scroll of Isaiah speak to our hearts. The promises speak to us even as they did to Israel in Isaiah's and Jesus' time. But there is responsibility in the promises also. Not only will be be comforted and rejoice, but we will be priests and ministers of our God. Our troubles and sorrows will be replace with blessings and joy but I believe that we will be instruments of God to comfort and bless others also.
May you be blessed in 2011. May you see the promises of God for you and may you find the paths to bless and comfort others around you.