Becoming the Peaceable kin-dom - a reflection on Isaiah 58
A Lent reflection for Saturday, February 25th
By Rev. Mary Putera
Lectionary Reading: Psalm 51; Isaiah 58:1-12; Matthew 18:1-7
Selected Passage: Isaiah 58:1-14
Isaiah 58 (The Inclusive Bible)
Shout for all you are worth, Raise your voice like a trumpet! Proclaim to the people their faults, Tell the house of Leah and Rachel and Jacob their sins! They seek me daily they long to know my ways, like a nation that wants to act with integrity and not ignore the Law of its God. They ask me for laws that are just, they long for God to draw near. Yet they say, “Why should we fast, if you never see it? Why do penance if you never notice?” Because when you fast, its business as usual, and you oppress all your workers! Because when you fast, you quarrel and fight and strike the poor with your fist! Fasting like yours today will never make your voice heard on high! Is that the sort of fast that pleases me – a day when people humiliate themselves, hanging their heads like a reed, lying down on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call fasting, a day acceptable to YHWH?
On the contrary!This is the sort of fast that pleases me: Remove the chains of injustice! Undo the ropes of the yoke! Let those who are oppressed go free, And break every yoke you encounter! Share your bread with those who are hungry, and shelter homeless poor people! Clothe those who are naked,
and don’t hide from the needs of your own flesh and blood! Do this, and your light will shine like the dawn – and your healing will break forth like lightning. Your integrity will go before you, and the glory of YHWH will be your rearguard. Cry, and YHWH will answer; call, and God will say, I am here’ – provided you remove from your midst all oppression, finger pointing, and malicious talk!
If you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness, and your shadows will become like noon. YHWH will always guide you, giving relief in desert places. God will give strength to your bones and you will be like a well watered garden, Like a spring of water, whose well never runs dry. You will rebuild the ancient ruins, and build upon age-old foundations. You will be called Repairer of Broken Walls. If you refrain from trampling the Sabbath and doing business on the holy day.
If you call the Sabbath delightful and the day sacred to YHWH honorable, If you honor it by not pursuing your own ways, seeking your own pleasure, or speaking your own words, then will you find your happiness in YHWH, and I will lead you triumphant over the heights of the land. I will feed you on the heritage of Leah and Rachel and Jacob, your ancestors!” The mouth of YHWH has spoken.
Isaiah 58 has become for me the long version of the Schema (Deut. 6:1-12) that points to the two commandments of Jesus (Matt. 22:34-40). Isaiah 58 holds within it the history and future call of God for our lives! YHWH's word spoken here serves as a bridge between the Hebrew people of God and Jesus followers.
This passage, as well as the Schema and Jesus words are spoken in each case to those who wield the power of position and the power of influence in their religious circles, communities of faith and communities they live in, just like us today. It is a call to all Jesus followers to inspect the integrity of our community dialogue (vs. 10) and our actions in the world we live in(vs. 10-14). Oppression is inflicted through socio-systemic injustice and can only be dissolved through collective effort. To transform the world where non-love exists, we must become and bring God’s love. To transform the world where non-peace thrives, we must become and bring God’s peace. Becoming the Peaceable kin-dom is a WE thing!
Can you imagine the joy of being called “Repairer of Broken Walls, and Restorer of Ruined Neighborhoods? Can you imagine joining the path our ancestors Leah and Rachel and Jacob walked with YHWH that our grandchildren’s children may find their way too? God will strengthen our bones if we try!
Becoming the Peaceable kin-dom is a WE thing!
To do this WE must listen, as a community, to the voices of the oppressed.
Some opportunities include:
Learn about the LGTBQIA community https://www.hrc.org/resources/being-an-lgbtq-ally and connect with your local care providers to ensure appropriate services are available in your community for LGTBQIA friends.
Learn about Indigenous People’s organizations such as the MMIW https://mmiwusa.org/, connect with your local tribe and listen to their stories
Learn about the Jewish Community: https://www.jewishfederations.org/, connect with your local synagogue
Learn about the efforts of the Poor People's campaign in your city/state: https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/
Learn about much needed Bail and Parole reform: https://www.prisonpolicy.org/jails.html
What does it look like to remove finger pointing and malicious talk from your own inner dialogue and expressions as a local community?
If you are looking for some assistance in this, may I suggest: The Anti-Racism Daily: https://the-ard.com. Each day a short article is posted that addresses a circumstance of oppression.
Perhaps along with the Lenten devotional, engaging with people suffering oppression would prepare us for Easter, for the path of Love, for our journey towards the Peaceable kin-dom of God.
Lord wherever non-love lives, strengthen us to hold non-love in your love,
That non-love may be transformed by your love.
Lord wherever non-peace lives, strengthen us to hold non-peace in your peace,
That non-peace may be transformed by your peace.
Dearest Lord Jesus, thank you for loving us so much.
And all God’s people say: Amen and amen.
About The Author
Rev. Mary Putera is a second generation Maltese Italian American immigrant. She lives on the unceded territory of the Narragansetts in Rhode Island. She is dually ordained with the ECC and PCA denominations. She also serves locally and globally as a Licensed Counselor, Community Care Provider, Trainer and Organizational Consultant.