17 For I am about to create new heavens
and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered
or come to mind.
18 But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I am creating;
for I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy,
and its people as a delight.
19 I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
and delight in my people;
no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it,
or the cry of distress.
20 No more shall there be in it
an infant that lives but a few days,
or an old person who does not live out a lifetime;
for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth,
and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed.
21 They shall build houses and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
-Isaiah 65:17-21, NRSV
Near the end of the biblical book that bears his name, the prophet Isaiah shares this holy vision of God’s “glorious new creation.” As we read the words of this vision, we discover some characteristics of this new creation:
- It will be a place marked by joy, not sadness or distress: “I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people; no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it, or the cry of distress” (Isaiah 65:19, NRSV).
- It will be a place marked by life, not death or tragic grief: “No more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days, or an old person who does not live out a lifetime; for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth, and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed” (Isaiah 65:20, NRSV).
- And it will be a place marked by stability and security: “They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit” (Isaiah 65:21, NRSV).
Stability and security. In this portion of the biblical text, stability and security come in the form of fields that produce, of houses that provide shelter. Yet that’s not just the case in the biblical text; that’s the case in our context, too. Adequate housing — a safe place in which to live and learn and sleep and grow — provides stability and security in the here-and-now.
Yet in our world, in our country, and in our very city of Bethlehem, too many struggle to secure and maintain affordable and adequate housing. This week, together with other religious leaders from the Bethlehem Interfaith Group, I had the opportunity to connect with some of our city council members to discuss concerns about adequate housing in our community. The council members shared that in the city of Bethlehem, approximately 50% of all renters and 25% of all homeowners struggle with “cost-burdened” housing — that is, housing costs that consume 30% or more of their monthly income. That in itself is a ‘housing insecure’ reality, and the pandemic has only exacerbated that. In our city, there is a growing need not only for low-income/HUD housing, but also for middle-income housing / “workforce” housing.
As a Christian, I hold those statistics in one hand, and my Bible in the other. As I read the scriptures, I discover a God who desires for all people to live (and thrive!) in adequate and affordable housing, to experience the security and stability that kind of housing provides. I believe God cares about this. After all, it’s part of God’s vision of the “glorious new creation”!
So today, on this Wednesday “call to prayer,” I invite you to pray for those who lack access to affordable and adequate housing.
- I invite you to prayerfully consider volunteering for our shelter ministry, through which we provide meals to those who sleep at the Bethlehem Emergency Shelter.
- I invite you to prayerfully consider giving to our pastor’s discretionary fund, which we often use to provide rental assistance to those who are struggling to make ends meet.
- I invite you to prayerfully reflect on how you might become more involved in housing concerns on the city and county level. (Want more information? I can help you make those contacts!)
- And I invite you to pray: to pray for a vision of the world in which all may have a safe, stable place in which to live and learn and sleep and grow.
What are you praying for today?
Share your prayer requests by:
- Emailing Pastor Candy: email@example.com
- Emailing Pastor Debbie: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Filling out our digital prayer card: https://wesleychurch.com/prayer-request-test/
Together, our Wesley Church Prayer Team will pray for each of your requests. If you would prefer for your prayer request to remain confidential with the pastoral staff, please indicate that in your message.
Be people of prayer, friends… and remember:
Our God is bigger than coronavirus.
Our vision is bigger than coronavirus, too.
We are people blessing people.
We are Wesley Church.
Want to know more?
- Learn about our church and its ministries: https://wesleychurch.com/
- Make a gift to support our mission: https://wesleychurch.com/giving-2/
- View our recent messages: https://wesleychurch.com/sermon-message-on-video/
- View previous devotionals: https://wesleychurch.com/pastor-candys-devotionals-2/