“I’ll tell you what it really means to worship the Lord.
Remove the chains of prisoners who are chained unjustly.
Free those who are abused! 7 Share your food with everyone who is hungry;
share your home with the poor and homeless. Give clothes to those in need;
don’t turn away your relatives. 8 Then your light will shine
like the dawning sun and you will quickly be healed.
Your honesty will protect you as you advance, and the glory of the Lord will defend you from behind. 9 When you beg the Lord for help, he will answer, ‘Here I am!’”–Isaiah 58: 6-9
For 50 years the people lived in captivity, now that they are returning to their “new normal,” however, life remained difficult, there are divisions, hostility, drought, food shortages, economic, homelessness, hunger, lack of clothing, and overt injustice, all of this created tension, threatened the stability and made rebuilding difficult.
Isaiah steps into this circumstance with a message from God. I am not looking for your religious acts, I do not need your fasting. True worship of God instead requires you to loosen the bonds of injustice, to stand up for those who have been harmed, to share what you have, to shelter the homeless, to clothe the naked. Then and only then will you be healed.
Isaiah is calling for more than one-time actions, instead he is asking for the people to invest in actions that will restructure community. What God desires is that his people are concerned for those who are suffering. Stand up against injustice. Set the oppressed free.
Each day we ask God for healing, this scripture points to how is God asking us to be actively engaged in that healing. Today, I will embrace this call to action. I hope you will join me.
O God, you give us prophets, who cry out for justice and mercy. Open our ears to hear them, and to follow the truth they speak.
God of hope and healing, we cry out to you today, we grieve injustice in our world and stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers of color. Unite ourselves with others to work to dismantle racism.
Help us to be the light that shines in the darkness. Give us the courage to take action so that all the world may be healed. Amen.