It’s Lent. I meant to talk about the simultaneity of Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day, but this column is a better treatment of the topic than I could give.
So. It’s Lent, time of penitence and discipline and observances. One of my disciplines for this Lent is the study of Isaiah. I hope to find and commit to a particular theologian’s commentary on it (please leave any suggestions or recommendations in the comments), but in the meantime, there’s the simple act of reading it, of pondering the text itself.
Isaiah’s prophecy and visions regarding the nation of Israel being taken into captivity concern a specific event (or events, as sections of the prophecy point directly to Christ’s birth and his death). I haven’t actually studied theology in great enough depth to tell you much more than that.
In my reading about God’s judgment of Judah, I came on this verse:
For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts
is the house of Israel,
and the men of Judah
are his pleasant planting;
and he looked for justice,
but behold, bloodshed;
but behold, an outcry!
When you read this in the wake of children being shot at a school in Florida, the bloodshed and outcry of the present day seem inextricable from what war and wickedness went on in Judah.
I got a bit concerned about myself, and whether I was being heretical by applying this scripture to the present concerns – concerned enough to try categorizing it, which meant my brother got a charming e-mail with the subject line “Heresy question.”
He categorized it as personal judgment, and potentially premillennialism. Reading up on premillennialism suggested that the doctrine to avoid was historicism, which made me wonder if my favorite Lutheran blog had written anything on the subject.
Searching for the term brought this post to my attention. It’s not actually focused on historicism, mentioning it once and moving on, but examines several other matters worth rumination.
Trent’s discussion of students properly being eager and earnest, of the proper wonder for the world as God’s creation, and of a joy that is serious, have all highlighted to me how I have lost my own zeal, my own earnestness, and thus my own joy:
Joy is not the opposite of seriousness. Joy is rather its concomitant, arising only from that which seriousness alone affords, for joy is the saved soul’s perception of God in His works, which are the good, the true, and the beautiful. The eye of faith takes joy in the good creation of God which it espies beneath the marring of sin, the good world which the fire of heaven will, at the last trumpet, purge and make new. Joy is the highest transfiguration of wonder. It is a deeply serious affair.
I feel convicted, that in the stead of true joy or delight, I might have instead been merely flippant. But it is my hope that the study and discipline of Lent will pave the way for a wholly joyful Easter.