Isaiah 1:10-18 (NRSV)
Verse 10Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom! Listen to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomorrah! Verse 11What 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. Verse 12When you come to appear before me, who asked this from your hand? Trample my courts no more; Verse 13bringing offerings is futile; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and sabbath and calling of convocation- I cannot endure solemn assemblies with iniquity. Verse 14Your new moons and your appointed festivals my soul hates; they have become a burden to me, I am weary of bearing them. Verse 15When 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.
Verse 16Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, Verse 17learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. Verse 18Come 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.
Upon hearing about the most recent mass shooting my twenty-something son sardonically recited the much-used slogan of late: "Thoughts and prayers, thoughts and prayers." His words revealed an emptiness, a void that could not be filled with mere words, no matter how many times and how many people recite them. Isaiah tells us that God does not want the empty thoughts and prayers of those who continue to tolerate injustice. Instead God seeks our actions to end all forms of injustice, especially those we currently hear so much about: gun violence, children separated from their parents, and refugees denied justice, to name a few. Using our hands, feet, and voices — our all — in action for justice "fills up" our otherwise empty thoughts and prayers in meaningful ways.
Thanks be to God — for the ways we have fallen short of living out justice, Isaiah paints a lovely picture of God's promised forgiveness: God makes our sins, the color of crimson, as white as snow.
God of justice, help us to "fill up" our empty thoughts and prayers with actions. Bless our efforts as we use our hands, feet, and voices to seek justice to counter the many injustices in our world. Let us be a part of your lovely picture of forgiveness. Amen.