In today's reading from the prophet Isaiah, we read about the promise of God's future reign, in which God's people will be set free from the oppression of their enemies and be empowered to live under God's authority. The announcement that God's justice will come to pass and that the salvation of the Lord will be revealed is indeed "good news!" As the prophet Isaiah declares, "How beautiful upon the mountain are the feet of the messenger who brings good news!"
As we reflect on this reading today, I would like to call our attention to the word peace. The good news that Isaiah declares is the news of God's reign, God's salvation, and God's peace. The Hebrew word that is used in this passage is shalom. Although shalom is typically translated into English as peace, the Hebrew word has a much broader meaning. Shalom is wholeness of body, soul, and spirit. Shalom is completeness and abundance. Shalom is peace within ourselves, our relationships with one another, and our relationship with God. So, when Isaiah speaks of God's future as a time of peace, he is speaking of much more than simply the absence of conflict. Isaiah is declaring that God's future reign will be a time of wholeness, abundance, health, harmony, and rest. This is good news indeed!
As part of our recent celebration of Holy Week, the passion account from John's gospel was read on Good Friday. In John's account of the passion, the final words from Jesus on the cross are "It is finished!" This final declaration of Jesus is the translation of single Greek word, and this single Greek word can be traced back to a single Hebrew word - shalom. So, even from the cross, an instrument of shameful death, we hear the proclamation of the shalom of God. In the midst of agony and pain, we hear the accouncement of "good news" - the announcement that God's future is even now breaking into the world and that healing, forgiveness, wholeness, and peace are available to God's people. This is good news indeed!
But this good news needs a messenger, a messenger that will proclaim through word and deed the good news that God's reign has come. We are called to embody this good news in every aspect of our lives, not simply through the ministry of the church. We are all messengers of God!
Publish glad tidings, tidings of peace,
tidings of Jesus, redemption and release!
Hymn 539 ~ Hymnal 1982
Take a good look at your feet. They are the feet of a messenger of God!
How is God calling you to embody the good news of peace - the good news that the shalom of God has come into the world through Christ?