Isaiah 58:1-9a (NRSV)
Chapter 58Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! Announce to my people their rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins. Verse 2Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God.
Verse 3"Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?" Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers. Verse 4Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high. Verse 5Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord? Verse 6Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Verse 7Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Verse 8Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Verse 9Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
Isaiah describes people who are “going through the motions.” We all find ourselves doing that at times. We do what appears right even when we don’t feel it in our hearts. Our minds are distracted by many things these days. We bring our distracted selves to worship. How do we change this? To be honest with you, I’m not sure.. I try to corral my focus by remembering a sense of awe. In worship I find awe in each individual person I meet. I am in the presence of one of God’s beloved children. I find awe in beautiful music sung during our worship. As we have begun to worship in fuller physical presence again, our youth choirs have begun with gusto. Their offerings are amazing. Seeing God at work in worship helps me focus more acutely when I leave the building to find God at work outside these holy walls.
Gracious Lord God, you are always active. Open our eyes to see your fingerprints in all of life. By the power of your Holy Spirit make us your voice and workers in this struggling world. We pray in Jesus’ precious name, Amen.