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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, November 9, 2019  

Today’s Scripture Reading | Isaiah 1:10–18   

Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom! Listen to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah! What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. When you come to appear before me, who asked this from your hand? Trample my courts no more; bringing offerings is futile; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and sabbath and calling of convocation— I cannot endure solemn assemblies with iniquity. Your new moons and your appointed festivals my soul hates; they have become a burden to me, I am weary of bearing them. When you stretch out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. Come now, let us argue it out, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. (NRSV)

“I am sick and tired of you people.” Thus saith the Lord. “I’ve had it with you.”

Good morning, everyone. The Lord thinks we (are kind of awful).

And, you know, when I look at the news, I kind of think the Lord has a point here. I mean, I get sick and tired all the time and have had it up to my eyeballs with people. And by “people” of course, the Lord means “religious people,” with their offerings and sacrifices and their solemn assemblies and their appearances in the courts of the Lord. And the Lord’s got a point.

When a large church advertises for a pastor who can connect with “those who have outwardly made it in life,” the Lord’s got a point. When a representative of a Christian organization says that “God allows terrorism to show we need him,” the Lord’s got a point.

And when people see this all going on and don’t do anything about it but shake their heads, well, the Lord’s got a point.

I mean, if God wanted to be in the business of throwing lightning bolts at those who provide the outward show of piety while practicing its opposite, this world would provide what the military calls “a target-rich environment.”

But God’s more patient than that, thank . . . well, God.

After we get the word from God about how much we (are kind of awful), we get the command: Shape up. Clean up your mess. Do better stuff. Stuff like rescuing the oppressed, defending the orphan, pleading on behalf of the bereaved. The justice stuff. Do that.

Cease to do evil. Learn to do good.

Try not to (be kind of awful).

Lord, help us to turn from evil and hold to the good. Remind us that the practice of justice is the proclamation of your kingdom. Amen.

Written by Rob Koon, Coordinator of Fine Arts

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