Reflection on COVID-19, Part V – 15 January 2021, by Rev Craig Morrison

Good morning, Saints,
Here is the final part (5) of my expanded epistle for January: Thank you for keeping on with it.

“Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.”

Isaiah 40:4 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)

This text from Isaiah is the one famously cited by Dr Martin Luther King Jnr, in his rousing “I Have A Dream” speech, given during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963. On Monday 18 January, the USA celebrates MLK Day, a public holiday, although today is his birthday (15th) MLK Day is always the third Monday of Jan.
King is a hero to many for fighting for the human dignity of black folks.

It is in great contrast to the shocking scenes we saw this week (6th Jan) of a violent mob launching an assault on the US Capitol in an effort to subvert the outcome of the democratic USA election. One policeman was beaten to death by the mob, two took their lives, one rioter shot.

Rev. King paraphrased and expanded on the prophet Isaiah’s words from chapter 40. Perhaps today the same verse is inspiring for us as we face a global pandemic of the SARS COV-2 virus.

It is a metaphor that speaks about smoothing everything. Valley lifted up; mountain pressed flat; paths made straight; rough land levelled.

The literary style is typical of Hebrew poetry making use of a double couple device. (Hebrew poetry is full of grammatical devicesthat get lost in the translation into English.) The imagery in Isaiah 40 is strong and stark and inspirational. It is a word of hope. It is a reminder that things will get better. It holds before us a dream of what will be.

Historically, the Isaiah passage originally related to an exiled people waiting for divine intervention to restore their homeland.

In our time, being cut off from family, friends, and social supports can feel like being in a time of exile.
My sister and her kids got COVID-19 in December and we were not able to see them until the last day – and even that was a strange, physically distanced affair. A two-year-old wants to see your face!

Being in a pandemic means that every community and security-complex and family can be touched. We must each play our part in our safety and of our loved one, for no one is immune. Friends, the valleys are deep, the mountains seemly insurmountable, relationships feel crooked, and every terrain feels rough.

The word of God reminds us that it won’t always be like this:
“Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.”

Verse 5 of the same chapter says:
“Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’

One of my teacher’s at bible college used to say, “This too shall pass.”
Isaiah is also reminding us to hold on, for this too shall pass.

Be safe! Control the things you can be in control of. Leave the rest to God. God is love. Perfect love drives away fear.

Have a blessed weekend in the One in whom we live and move

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s