Announcing “The Isaiah Project”: An LGBTQ Reflection Series for Advent

“Isaiah” by Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel, Vatican

The liturgical Old Testament readings for Advent are among the most beautiful, poetic, and hopeful texts of the Bible.  They speak of expectation, longing, liberation, and God’s unfailing love and solidarity with humanity. The season’s readings are primarily taken from the prophet Isaiah, who is described by the Encylopedia Britannica:

“He was at home with the unprotected, the widowed and orphaned; with the dispossessed, homeless, landless; and with the resourceless victims of the moneyed man’s court. He was also acquainted with the rapacious authors of the prevailing misery: promulgators of discriminatory laws, venal judges, greedy landgrabbers, fancy women, thieving and carousing men of means, and irresponsible leaders, both civil and religious.”

Sound familiar?

This Advent, Bondings 2.0 has planned a special project which requires the participation of you, our readers.  We are providing you with a sampling of some excerpts from the season’s liturgical texts (see below), and we ask YOU to share brief (150 words or less) reflections, stories, prayers, poems in response to one or more of these readings. We will post a selection of these submissions on each of the Sundays of Advent.  Use the form below to make your submission.

To help you get started writing, you may want to think of the following questions:

  1. What word or image from the passage speaks most to you as an LGBTQ person or ally?
  2. What emotional or spiritual chord resonates in you when you read the entire passage?
  3. Does the passage or some part of it remind you of a particular event, moment, person, or place? Does it bring you back to a particular stage of your life?
  4. Does the passage help you dream about what the future can look like for LGBTQ Catholics and allies?  If so, can you describe that vision?

You may also want to look at New Ways Ministry’s Advent exercises as part of our series “Journeys:  Scriptural Reflections for LGBTQ People and Allies.”  Reading the questions in  that series may spark some reflections for you.

The deadlines for submissions are the Tuesdays before Advent Sundays:  November 26, December 3, 10, 17.

The following are the scripture excerpts we selected.  If you have a favorite Isaiah selection of your own, not listed here, please feel free to write about that passage.  There were so many hopeful images to choose from that it was hard to limit ourselves!

Readings

Isaiah 9:1-2

The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
Upon those who lived in a land of gloom
    a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy
and great rejoicing;
They rejoice before you as people rejoice at harvest,
as they exult when dividing the spoils.

Isaiah  11:1-5

But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,
    and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
The spirit of God shall rest upon him:
    a spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
A spirit of counsel and of strength,
    a spirit of knowledge and of fear of God
and his delight shall be the fear of God.
Not by appearance shall he judge,
    nor by hearsay shall he decide,
But he shall judge the poor with justice,
    and decide fairly for the land’s afflicted.
He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,
    and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
Justice shall be the band around his waist,
    and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.

Isaiah 30:19-21

Truly, God is waiting to be gracious to you,
    truly, God shall rise to show you mercy;
For  God is a god of justice:
    happy are all who wait for God!
Yes, people of Zion, dwelling in Jerusalem,
    you shall no longer weep;
God will be most gracious to you when you cry out;
    as soon as God hears, you will receive an answer.
God will give you bread in adversity
    and water in affliction.
No longer will your Teacher hide,
    but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher,
And your ears shall hear a word behind you:
    “This is the way; walk in it,”
    when you would turn to the right or the left.

Isaiah 35:3-6

Strengthen hands that are feeble,
    make firm knees that are weak,
Say to the fearful of heart:
    Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God
    who comes with vindication;
With divine recompense
    God comes to save you.
Then the eyes of the blind shall see,
    and the ears of the deaf be opened;
Then the lame shall leap like a stag,
    and the mute tongue sing for joy.

Isaiah 40: 28-31

Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
God is from of old,
    creator of the ends of the earth.
God does not faint or grow weary,
    and  God’s knowledge is beyond scrutiny.
God gives power to the faint,
    abundant strength to the weak.
Though young people faint and grow weary,
    and youths stagger and fall,
They that hope in God will renew their strength,
    they will soar on eagles’ wings;
They will run and not grow weary,
    walk and not grow faint.

Submit Your Reflection

  • (As you would like it to appear on the blog. Initials or "Anonymous" are acceptable.)
  • (As you would like it to appear on the blog.)
  • (Not for publication.)

Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, November 18, 2019

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