If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in. ________________________________________________
This passage from Isaiah 58 follows a more familiar section that we have quoted many times at Plymouth. To get the flow of the passage, I suggest reading the entire chapter. In it, God (speaking through Isaiah) claims that the most meaningful worship doesn’t consist of fasting and ceremony but rather of caring for the poor. In the portion we will read this week, the focus is on the renewal of Israel. If the people will stop pointing the finger and speaking evil, God promises that their “light shall rise.” “Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt,” the people are told.
This passage seems particularly poignant for September 11, the 10th anniversary of the attacks on America.
- Where, in our culture today, do we find “the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil?” In what ways are we and our progressive tradition implicated in this?
- What is it that keeps our (your) true light from shining? What would it look like if that light became more evident in the world?
- Who, today, are the true “repairers of the breach?” What is the breach that needs to be repaired?
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