Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The Prophet's Complaint

Tuesday, February 8, 2011 -- Week of 5 Epiphany, Year One

To read about our daily commemorations, go to our Holy Women, Holy Men blog:

Today's Readings for the Daily Office
(Book of Common Prayer, p. 946)
Psalms 78:1-39 (morning)       78:40-72 (evening)
Isaiah 59:1-15a
2 Timothy 1:1-14
Mark 9:42-50

Isaiah certainly gives voice for us when we experience anger and disappointment with our government and society.  When finance and economics are corrupt and broken, we have words from the prophet to cry out in frustration.  These last few chapters of Isaiah are almost too much to take, yet they strike a familiar chord and tone.  If we know the prophet, we know a brighter vision is around the corner, a vision of a new creation.  But the beginning of chapter 59 articulates virtually every disappointment one might have of our corporate life as a people.

When things are bad, we tend to ask "Where is God?  Why hasn't God acted to right these wrongs?"  The absence of divine response in the midst of wrongful suffering can make us doubt God's reality or relevance. 

But Isaiah says it is not that God's hand is too short or God's ear too dull to hear, "rather, your iniquities have been barriers between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear."

What are the problems?  We find the prophet primarily addresses the powerful, those with authority to implement legal and economic justice.  "Your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue mutters wickedness.  No one bring suit justly, no one goes to law honestly...  They hatch adders' eggs, and weave the spider's web...  The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths."

I think of a nation at war since 2003.  A litigious people.  The spider's web of financial shenanigans that brought down the economy.  A thirty year trend of concentrating more and more wealth in the hands of the super-wealthy, and the willingness of government to make laws and policies favoring the interests of the powerful and wealthy rather than the poor and vulnerable. 

"Therefore justice is far from us and righteousness does not reach us; we wait for light, and lo! there is darkness; and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.  We grope like the blind along a wall...  We wait for justice, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far from us.  Our transgressions before you are many, ...talking oppression and revolt, conceiving lying words and uttering them from the heart.  Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands at a distance; for truth stumbles in the public square, and uprightness cannot enter.  Truth is lacking, and whoever turns from evil is despoiled."

We long for a society ruled by God's priorities.  A society where the poor and vulnerable, the widow, orphan and alien are cared for generously.  A society where truth reigns and violence is absent.  A society motivated by love and compassion rather than power and greed.  A people of peace.  That is the righteousness and justice we long for.  It can only come as a gift from God.  But God can only give it to us if we are willing to accept it.  We seem to prefer our wicked ways.



Audio podcast:  Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week.  Click the following link:
Morning Reflection Podcasts

About Morning Reflections
"Morning Reflections" is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at missionstclare.com -- Click for online Daily Office
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this location -- http://explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/index.html --  Click for Divine Hours

Discussion Blog:  To comment on today's reflection or readings, go to http://lowellsblog.blogspot.com, or click here for Lowell's blog find today's reading, click "comment" at the bottom of the reading, and post your thoughts.

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

See our Web site at www.stpaulsfay.org

Our Rule of Life: 
We aspire to...
    worship weekly
    pray daily
    learn constantly
    serve joyfully 
    live generously.

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas


At 11:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I think of a nation at war since 2003 . . . thirty year trend of concentrating more and more wealth in the hands of the super-wealthy, and the willingness of government to make laws and policies favoring the interests of the powerful and wealthy rather than the poor and vulnerable."

You have an upside down theology Lowell.

You are thinking (kinda close to coveting) the super-wealthy? I am going to encourage you to stop breaking the 10th commandment.

You support Obama who is the ultimate pro-abortionist. Abortion takes advantage of our young girls, fails to report incest and rape, kills their unborn babies and fails to give true information to the mother. All in the name of money.

God's priorities are not political change, they are not gay rights, they are not pro-abortion, big taxes, impossibly big government. They are eternal.

You are right when you say truth is lacking, and it starts right here.



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