When Abundance is Emptiness

Week of December 4, 2016

The great prophet Isaiah leads us into images of God’s holy mountain.  They can connect us to the memories of the description of the Garden of Eden.  The prophet tells us of a place where the wolf and the lamb are together, the bear and the cow are neighbors.  It is a place where the Jewish people of Israel and the non-Jewish, the Gentiles, are all welcomed.  These contrasts invite us to reflect on the abundance of what God’s holy mountain looks like.  Yet, just like Adam and Eve there is not enough satisfaction in what is presented to keep us there.  We wander far from it.

How often have we looked into the eyes of a child to see that there was disappointment in what they received?  It was not enough, it did not measure up.  Many young people feel parents do not give them enough of a data plan on their smart phones.  For me, my disappointment as a child came when opening up packages of clothes.  I needed them anyway, so they did not feel special.  Often times we can be in crowds and feel alone, we can buy in abundance and still feel unfulfilled.  This does not match that, I need a new color; this is not flattering when I wear it.  All of the consumerism of the world cannot satisfy us.  Why?  The journey is not about the things of this world. Ever have buyer’s remorse?  What looked great in the store or on the trip is now chucked into the pile of things that get worn only a few times.  We have a hunger and we must learn that it will never be satisfied by the things of this earth.

The prophet leads us to a place beyond consumerism and competition.  Why can the wolf and the lamb walk together?  There is no competition.  Why can the leopard nestle in with the kid and the calf be friends with the young lion?   There is no competition.

We consume, we compete, yet the way of the Kingdom is subtraction and emptiness.  To learn this truth is to exhaust all other possibilities.  We have to enter into a mystery of trust only God can provide.  Today the prophet connects us with the original vision.  We go to the mountain, we return to the Garden of Eden, where reliance was totally on God.  If there was just one present for each of us, one wrapped box, would it be enough?

What if inside was the gift of a Savior who would die for our sins?  Would that be enough?

Reverend John J. Ouper