What are we waiting for?

[A sermon preached on Isaiah 65: 17-25 for the Queer Eucharist at St John’s West Toronto, December 11, 2019,


Open our ears, O Lord, to hear your word
and know your voice.
Speak to our hearts and strengthen our wills,
that we may serve you today and always. Amen

Advent is a time of waiting.

I’ve heard endless sermons about how we wait,
and about waiting in general,
but I don’t often hear sermons about what we’re waiting for.

So what are we waiting for?

The Sunday school answer is that in these four weeks of advent
we are waiting for Christmas and the birth of Jesus.

But is it more than that?

Are we in a way always living in an advent season of waiting?
Waiting for the kingdom of God to come?
Waiting for the new heavens and new earth
that the prophet paints so beautifully in this text?
Waiting for a time when no more shall
the sound of weeping be heard or the cry of distress?

Have you ever thought about what this would prophecy
would actually look like in today’s context?
In this world, in this time?
Let’s read it again and see what we can come up with.

For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth;
the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.
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.
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.

No more shall the cry of distress be heard
on the floor of our synods.
No more shall holidays be met with the sound of weeping
from so many in our community
who don’t have a home to go home to.

In the new Jerusalem there shall be
no more homophobia,
no more transphobic, no more sexism,
no more racism,
no more ablism,
no more classism.

No more systems of oppression and marginalization.

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.

No more shall there be a refugee child born to die
because of heartless governments. 

No more shall queer and trans children and teens
die by suicide because this society is a cruel place
for those who don’t fit the boxes we’re meant to.

No more shall trans women of colour be murdered.
No more shall any lives be lost to violence.

No more of our friends dying on the streets
while the rich have more houses
than they know what to do with.

No more of our siblings dying from overdoses.

They shall build houses and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
They shall not build and another inhabit;
they shall not plant and another eat;

No longer will migrant workers
be brought in to do the jobs we don’t want to.

No longer will our clothes be made in sweatshops.
No longer will our food be harvested by people
paid next to nothing, if paid at all.

For like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

They shall not labor in vain, or bear children for calamity;
for they shall be offspring blessed by the Lord— and their descendants as well

They shall not bear children for calamity.
No more children violently stripped from their parents
at border crossings.

Intersex children shall not be born to have medically unnecessary,
and potentially dangerous and permanently damaging,
surgeries performed on them before they’re old enough to consent.

Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
the lion shall eat straw like the ox;
but the serpent — its food shall be dust!
They shall not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain, says the Lord.

That sounds like a prophecy of hope,
In a world where hope is so hard to find, there is hope here.

This is a kingdom of joy.
And that’s something I’m willing to wait for.


Lyds Keesmaat-Walsh

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