Family Liturgies

How Big and How Near

by Elizabeth Dilley

Scripture: Isaiah 40: 21-31 (NRSV)
Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? 22It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in; 23who brings princes to naught, and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing. 24Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows upon them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble. 25To whom then will you compare me, or who is my equal? says the Holy One. 26Lift up your eyes on high and see: Who created these? He who brings out their host and numbers them, calling them all by name; because he is great in strength, mighty in power, not one is missing.

27Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”? 28Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. 29He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. 30Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; 31but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

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Memory Verse 
“God gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless.”

Reflection
The prophet Isaiah offers a confounding message – the glory and utter humongous-ness of God in relation to the “stubble” that is the rulers of the earth in relation to their impact upon the world. In the next breath, however, Isaiah shows us the utter intimacy of a God from whom no tiny deed goes unnoticed, and a God who strengthens those who struggle and toil at the edges of the world. How big is God, and yet, how near!

I wonder what it must be like for the smallest members of our family (who must feel so powerless at times in relation to the adults who run the day, keep the schedule and sometimes yell when they run late) to know that God is on their side, that God gives them what they need to navigate a world that seems incomprehensible, capricious, and scary. I wonder what it must be like to know that when they cannot take another step, they are not left to blow away like dust in the wind, but they are gathered in loving arms, laid in a warm bed, and gently snuggled to a place of rest and renewal before facing a new day. I wonder what it must be like to remember that our strength is not from our own selves, but from the heart of God’s own self.

Family Reflection
-How can you feel the strength of God fill you when you are tired?

-How can you be the strength of God to refresh the weary in your household?

Family Activity
Isaiah reminds us of God’s emotional intimacy with the most vulnerable among us. Find a way to be emotionally close as a family this week – by snuggling in bed with hot chocolate and a movie, by drawing pictures (taken from imagery of this passage) together, by reading from our favorite stories. Every family is different, and every child expresses emotional intimacy differently. Focus on what works for you, and give thanks to God for each other.

Prayer
God, from you no corner of this beautiful and broken world is hidden; we thank you that you see us fully, too. Strengthen each one of us, not so that we fight battles at home, but so that we are ready to love this world in ways that bring wholeness. We pray in your name, amen.

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