Scripture: Isaiah 1:1, 10-20 (NRSV)
The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
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;
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.
If you are willing and obedient,
you shall eat the good of the land;
but if you refuse and rebel,
you shall be devoured by the sword;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
No matter what the rest of a text of scripture talks about, it always seems to come back to how we are called to love others. The oppressed, the orphan, the widow, what place do those folks have in your life? Do you represent one of those folks? The other concept that always seems to be part of scripture is forgiveness. At the end of our passage, God says, “let us argue it out,” and then proceed to explain that obedience to God brings cleansing that is white as snow.
Sometimes I think we feel as though we are past saving, like we have to be perfect before we participate in the God’s work in the world. That is the furthest thing from the truth. God loves and calls us just where we are and it is God who makes us white like snow. We do not have to be perfect to serve God; rather, we are called to serve God as people who are imperfect. May God bless and keep us as we come to him just as we are.
Holy God, keep us in your arms of mercy this day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.