True ritual is a searching indictment of all injustice, a corrective for it, and a model for righteous behavior. Presenting ourselves before God in our ceremonies, we invite his inspection of the entirety of our lives; recognizing this fact, we must comport ourselves accordingly in all that we do. Civil religion and cultural religiosity will betray all those who put their hope in them.
We are called to proclaim God’s word in such a way that we offer a nourishing alternative to the scarcity that all too often is dished up by our capitalistic, technologically-obsessed, and media-saturated society. As the People of God we are called to proclaim a new world order, one characterized by abundance and joy, by justice and lovingkindness, without any restrictions, without any boundaries.
Isaiah’s call to prophesy judgment against Israel challenges us to remember God’s sovereignty over all political systems, even those that are disastrous in our eyes. Could God’s judgment be the decisive turning point toward healing?
No matter how established we may think we are in this life, we are always on the way to another. To steady our step and to guide our path, we need to practice hope.
A competent sentinel must be vigilant, alert to and able to read the faintest signs upon a distant horizon, perceiving the most miniscule of details and discerning their greater import when they finally appear. In the opening chapters of both Matthew and Luke, we encounter a series of watchers and signs, presented in part as examples to the readers of the gospels in their own watching.
Transformation begins by inspiring—by breathing in—hope. Only then can we exhale justice. In ‘Immanuel’, God’s sign of hope for a desperate world, we find the means by which we can pursue justice.
In Isaiah 42, the prophet speaks both of the vulnerability of a dimly burning wick and the great light of the world. Understanding the relationship between these two images can provide us with hope and insight as we seek justice in our situations.
The prophet Isaiah was a city dweller, but his mind was on the countryside. Trees, vineyards, and fields populate his thinking and that of his successors in this long book, where vegetation serves both as metaphor (as in Isaiah 5:1-7), and as the life-sustaining growth on which humans literally depend (as in vv. 8-10). Agricultural imagery appears from one end of the book to the other (1:8; 66:17), spelling out both judgment and hope.
Emma Goldman once said “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.” Goldman was speaking of the bourgeoisie democracy that upholds the status quo of US society. Her words have rung true for many of us progressives who voted for President Obama. We have and grown increasingly frustrated as his administration has leaned toward the status quo rather than the oppressed and poor. This week’s lectionary reading tells of a man who was part of the status quo in his society, high in power and authority in Ethiopia, yet God’s Spirit had something else in mind for him, an apostle named Philip….