A Message by Rev. Scott W. Cousineau
When one studies the history of the
world you come to see that wherever there is access to clean, fresh water,
there is civilization. Throughout history, many of the wars that were waged
were over access to water.
As civilization grew and industry
developed, there came the need to trade one’s goods with others. Therefore,
trade routes developed between cities and countries.
The piece of land upon which Israel
sits happened to be a very desirable location. As they say in real estate,
“What are the three most important characteristics of a property? Location,
location, location.” Israel had access to cool, fresh water AND it sat directly
upon the primary trade route between Egypt, Africa and the regions of Asia and
Because of their location, location,
location Israel’s history was one of relatively constant warfare … conquest
upon conquest. One city was destroyed, and another built on top of it.
Archeologists have discovered that many of the major cities of ancient Israel
are over a dozen layers deep! When one sees a city built upon a mound, that is
because it sits upon the ruins of the previous cities.
Our passage from the Prophet Isaiah
follows a period in which the people of Israel were conquered by the mighty
Assyrian army. In their defeat, the Children of God lifted their voices in
prayer and supplication. They cried out to God. They wondered where God was.
They asked why God had abandoned them. They asked God why their prayer had not
been answered. They even wondered aloud if God even heard their prayers.
God was not silent. God was not
indifferent. God did not abandon the people.
The Assyrians were defeated, driven
from Israel, and Israel was restored. Our passage this morning was God’s
response to the pleas and the questions. This was God’s response to those who
were beginning to lose their faith in God.
did not abandon them as they had believed. God was at work. God was with them
in their misery. Their pain and suffering was painful to God. God delivered the
people. God gave them a reason to rejoice!
“Rejoice, my children! I am doing a
new thing! The old things … the painful things, the horrible things have passed
away. I am creating a new heaven and a new earth! There will be no more wailing
or weeping. Rejoice! There will be no more sadness or distress. Rejoice!”
The power and the Presence of God
had never left the people. The people may have struggled in their faith during
the difficult days and seasons, but God had never abandoned them. God heard
their cries and wept with them.
And God spoke through the prophet to
tell the people … to assure the people … that God was at work. What is more,
that work was not something that was happening in some far-off future. It was
happening right then!
Their land had been returned to
them. They had been restored as a people. And their faith had been restored.
could build their homes and plant their gardens. They could live in them
without fear. They could enjoy the fruits of their labors.
people would not be removed from their homes. They would not have their
orchards and vineyards destroyed. They could grow and flourish.
would be no more infant mortality. There would be no more people that would
suffer premature death. The Children of God would live as long as the trees themselves!
… their Holy City … was restored. Israel … their homeland … was restored. And
then we hear that the whole world would be transformed in this wonderful new
age that God is ushering in.
and avarice will be no more. They will be replaced by gentleness and
generosity. The wolf and the lamb will not compete for food, or resources. They
would eat together.
vision for the new world sounds familiar. God might as well have said, “I am
creating a new Eden. God is the ultimate Creator. The restoration of Jerusalem
and Israel were part of a larger work. God is creating a new world, a new
earth. This new earth is patterned after the new heaven.
has been at work since the dawn of time creating this heaven. God’s vision for
the world has never wavered or changed. God’s vision for the world is harmony …
peace … joy.
the world historians and Biblical scholars that you are, you may have read this
passage and thought to yourselves, “Yeah … but … after the conquest of the
Assyrians and the restoration of Israel, Israel was conquered and destroyed
again! Remember Babylon? Remember the Romans?”
we have discussed numerous times, our timelines and God’s timelines are vastly
different. We typically think in terms of our own lifespan. God has a much
larger and longer views. We may think of time in terms of decades, or even
centuries. God sees time in terms of eons.
with that understanding, we may still find ourselves asking the very same
questions that the ancient Israelites did. There might be times when we feel as
though God is absent. We may feel as though God does not hear or respond to our
prayers. We might look at the world around us and say, “Really, God?! This is
how you intend the world to be? How can you tolerate so much violence and
warfare, hate and hostility? How can you allow so much hunger, poverty, and
may think of our own personal struggles and difficulties and wonder where God
has been. We might say, “Where are you God? Are you there? Do you even care
about me? About them? Do you?!”
questions come from down deep. They come from places of fear and pain. Those
questions emerge from the shaky ground of uncertainty. We all have those
moments. They are part of our humanity.
then we remember.
we see moments of light.
see moments where the power of love withstands the power of evil.
see moments where love not only withstands evil but defeats it altogether.
we remember. God is joy. God is hope. God is our peace.
this moment, the God Box appears to be empty. By every human measure it is. The
God Box is devoid of any physical objects. But it is not empty. It is filled
with infinite possibilities. It is filled with the promise of God.
beautiful, little Mallory that I baptized this morning. That precious girl has
her entire life ahead of her. What will she grow into? What possibilities and
opportunities await her?
she be a pilot or a physician?
she be a poet or a playwright?
she be an astronaut or an architect?
she be a farmer or a fashion designer?
truck driver or maybe even a minister?
… yes … yes … yes … and yes. She can be any of them. She can be ALL of them!
about us? What can we be? Who can we be as individuals and as a church family?
last few years have been difficult years. COVID devastated the world and took
millions of people from us. We have suffered catastrophic weather events. Our
political discourse is corrosive and divisive. Half of the world lives in
poverty. All of that and so much more tears at our hearts.
our faith assures us that God is at work. God IS creating a new heaven and a
new earth. And the God Box IS filled with the promise of God.
is no reason to fear. There is no need to worry about scarcity. God has
provided for eons. God has looked over this church family for two hundred and
sixty years! God has provided and will continue to provide.
of our joy is that we get to participate in God’s joy and God’s promise. We
have the opportunity to share in the creation of this new earth and this new
heaven. We have the opportunity to share in God’s vision for the world. We get
to ask God, “What is your dream for the world?” And then we get to participate!
know what God has placed in the box … hope, peace and joy. What will we contribute?
Will we be gentle? And generous? Will we fill the box with love and with light?
IS creating a new heaven and a new earth. We are God’s Beloved Children AND we
are God’s partners. Let us create together. Amen.
Congregational ChurchUCC, SACO MAINE12 BEACH STREET | SACO, ME 04072207-283-3771