Written by Daniel Hazard
Excerpt from Isaiah 19:18-25
"Israel will rank with Egypt and Assyria, and these three nations will be a blessing to all the world. The Lord Almighty will bless them and say, 'I will bless you, Egypt, my people; you, Assyria, whom I created; and you, Israel, my chosen people.'"
Reflection by William C. Green
Being chosen by God involves sharing God's blessing, not monopolizing it or wielding it over others. Whether it's Israel, as in the Bible, or the United States, as in "American exceptionalism," chosenness includes recognition that others are consecrated too—even our enemies, as Jonah found when God overrode his resistance and he became the advent of divine love to Israel's arch-enemies, the Assyrians.
At their best, both Israel and the U.S. have seen themselves as "a light to the nations," not just a light to themselves, shining on their own uniqueness, reflected in the esteem of others who then qualify as trustworthy. God's vision is one of inclusion not exclusion and extends, as the Psalmist sings, to "the far corners of the earth." (Psalms 48, 135)
How timely the Bible's word right now! The prophet speaks in the name of God 800 years before Christ saying that three of the major battlegrounds of our day, all of them together, will be a "blessing to all the world": Israel, Egypt, and Assyria (most of modern-day Iraq spilling over into neighboring Turkey, Iran and Syria).
Can there be blessing in the midst of basic differences that once again, now in a nuclear age, threaten all the world? Can we experience our own chosenness as responsibility, not just status?
We are limited in what we can do. Many in the U.S. and our allies, like Jonah, are bogged down by hatred of modern-day "Assyrians" whoever they are. But as with Jonah, the spirit of God will prevail over against that. God wants our cooperation. Running from that is the longest and most futile race of all.
This Advent may the coming of Christ, the Prince of Peace, remind us of your blessing for all, God, and lead us toward peace, whatever stands in the way. Amen.
Looking for a way to say "thanks" to someone at church? Click here to preview and order How Can We Thank You?, a new collection of reflections from the Stillspeaking Writers' Group.