See, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. Isaiah 40:11
There are so many words and concepts that we use in church or Scripture study that we don’t use in other contexts: “redemption,” “salvation,” “hope,” “repentance.” These words pack a powerful punch theologically, but their tangible import may elude us in our day to day lives.
It is Advent. One of the concepts that we really don’t want to hear about or apply is “recompense.” This is a term we roll out in this season as we quote the prophet Isaiah who talks about the coming of the Lord. In Sunday’s lesson we hear that God will come with might and that God’s recompense comes before him. Huh?
According to Miriam Webster, “recompense” means to give something to by way of compensation (as for a service rendered or damage incurred), to pay for, or as a noun: an equivalent or a return for something done, suffered, or given. The prophet Isaiah is speaking to the people of Israel who are refugees in Babylon. They long for their homeland, political freedom and a restoration of their religious identity and dignity. Oh, and they also want to have the fruit of their labor.
Sound like any people we know today?
Of course, the Babylonians do not want to hear about the recompense that God will demand. Neither do we.
This Advent we sit waiting, living with uncomfortable words, knowing that recompense is coming.
-The Reverend Lisa Hunt, Rector