Daily reading: 21 December

Something to read

Be glad and rejoice for ever
in what I am creating;
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy,
and its people as a delight.

Isaiah 65:18 from full reading Isaiah 65:17-19

Something to think about

As we watch the news we might begin to have a somewhat jaded or cynical view of this reading. Jerusalem is seldom a city of great peace and rejoicing! We long and pray for the Bethlehem of the Christmas story to be free, for the people of that holy city of Jerusalem to find peace, but peace seems so far off.

But of course the irony was not even lost on Isaiah. The very name Jerusalem - ‘city of God's peace’ - was almost an ironic pun. Isaiah looks to a time when there will be no more mourning, no more tears in that city that even God mourns over.

Into this promise comes the Christ child, the one to set the people free and reign in peace for ever.

Nothing is ever quite as it seems with God, no warrior to clear the streets of the enemy, no magician to magic in a perfect age. Just a tiny vulnerable child and his faithful parents. And in our lives, and even within the streets of Jerusalem a new hope is kindled, the kind of peace and rejoicing that understands the irony and rejoices in the paradox, Christ has come, Emmanuel!

Something to do

Light a candle for peace, cut out a picture from the paper, look at it in the light of God's promise. Pray not in naivety that all will be well, but in the paradox of God's promise; God is with us, Emmanuel.


Something to pray

God of peace, peace often seems so far away.
You promised rejoicing, joy instead of tears.
Help me to spot the slip stream of your Spirit,
and with all I have, ride the wave of your peace.

Nicky Gilbert is a former student of Westminster College, Cambridge.