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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, August 12, 2019           

Today’s Scripture Reading | Isaiah 5:1–7

Let me sing for my beloved my love-song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; he expected it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes. And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more was there to do for my vineyard that I have not done in it? When I expected it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes? And now I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard. I will remove its hedge, and it shall be devoured; I will break down its wall, and it shall be trampled down. I will make it a waste; it shall not be pruned or hoed, and it shall be overgrown with briers and thorns; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the people of Judah are his pleasant planting; he expected justice, but saw bloodshed; righteousness, but heard a cry! (NRSV)

Sometimes you just need to be willing to start over.

That was the lesson we learned during the 2018 Fourth Church Music Mission trip to South Africa. During that trip forty people from Fourth Church sang in the black townships of Soweto, Gugulethu, and Thembalethu, and we also visited the Groot Constantia winery just outside Cape Town.

This winery is the oldest in South Africa and has been producing wine since 1652. Our tour guide told us their wine was enjoyed by George Washington and Marie Antoinette and that Napoleon even asked for it on his death bed, but our tour guide shared a humble story about their early days. The Dutch who began the vineyards placed them in an area that actually produced terrible wine until a visitor pointed out the poor light and soil and suggested moving the vineyard to a different side of a hill and the result was the great wine for which they became known. They had to be willing to rip out the vineyard and start over, but the result was worth the trouble.

Isaiah compares each of us to a vineyard, and at times we all have to be willing to acknowledge that what we are doing isn’t working and that it’s time to start over, that the soil and light our vineyard is planted in just isn’t working anymore and maybe it’s time to move the vineyard and start over.

Isaiah writes, “God expected justice, but saw bloodshed; righteousness, but heard a cry.” There is a cliché “God accepts you where you are, but God isn’t content to leave you there.” We are all on journey from God, to be reformed and returned back to God. As part of that journey, how can we start over to bring justice and righteousness? Where do we see the need for justice and righteousness today?

Gracious and loving God, as I journey through this day, this life, help me to bring justice and righteousness to a world so very much in need. Amen.

Written by John W. W. Sherer, Organist and Director of Music

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