How beautiful upon the mountains!
December 21, 2021 | Stuart Johnson-Kwochka
About the author: Stuart and Annalee Johnson-Kwochka grew up in Western North Carolina near Asheville. They have moved several times for work and for Annalee to pursue her PHD in clinical psychology. She now attends IUPUI and is in her final year to get her PHD. Stuart is the technical director at ZPC, but likes to spend most of his free time playing music, running, and hiking. Stuart started running sound and helping out with worship tech back in 2018. They have 2 cats: Atticus and Cardamom (like the spice).
Today's scripture: Isaiah 52:7-10
I was very excited to hear our passage mentioned mountains in the first verse. Annalee and I grew up in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
“How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
who brings good news,
who announces salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
The first thing that comes to mind is that this verse is full of verbs: announce, bring, say. I love hiking and also know that hiking up mountains can be incredibly challenging, so this verse isn’t as easy as it may sound. The messenger has traveled many miles to announce peace, bring good news, and announce salvation. May we be a people who pursue peace, good news, and salvation, despite the steep challenges that might bring.
“Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices,
together they sing for joy;
for in plain sight they see
the return of the Lord to Zion.
Break forth together into singing,
you ruins of Jerusalem;
for the Lord has comforted his people,
he has redeemed Jerusalem.”
I had to look up what sentinel was, which is: a soldier or guard whose job is to stand and keep watch. Soldiers singing is always a great image, because I think it signals the end of conflict. Singing for joy that the Lord has returned and the war is over. I’m reminded of Jerry’s sermon this past Sunday, which petitioned us to SING! Sing for joy that Jesus has come, and that we might know peace, joy, and love. I think we can especially relate to the “ruins of Jerusalem” right now with covid having taken away so many things we used to love. Even in our ruins, and the chaos of the world, we can find comfort and joy in God. But also know that we are not alone; verse nine says "break forth together into singing." Singing together creates harmonies and overtones you cannot get by yourself.
Option 1: Find someone to sing carols with! Even if it sounds bad, singing together the good news of God can draw us together in this troubling time.
Option 2: Go on a hike! Reflect on how difficult, but beautiful, it must have been to be a messenger and travel great distances to announce peace, bring good news, and announce salvation.
Dear Heavenly Father,
May we be messengers of peace, good news and salvation. May we not be afraid to sing together despite challenging circumstances. May we get outside and enjoy your world and reflect on its beauty.
In the name of Jesus,