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Friday, February 8, 2013

Today’s Reading | Isaiah 55:1–13

Ho, everyone who thirsts,
     come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
     come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
     without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
     and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
     and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
     listen, so that you may live.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
     my steadfast, sure love for David.
See, I made him a witness to the peoples,
     a leader and commander for the peoples.
See, you shall call nations that you do not know,
     and nations that do not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel,
     for he has glorified you.

Seek the Lord while he may be found,
     call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake their way,
     and the unrighteous their thoughts;
let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them,
     and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
     nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
     so are my ways higher than your ways
     and my thoughts than your thoughts.

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
     and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
     giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
     it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
     and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

For you shall go out in joy,
     and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
     shall burst into song,
     and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
     instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial,
     for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off. (NRSV)


The prophet Isaiah paints a picture of plenty. He writes of water, wine, and milk and of bread and rich foods. None of it costs any money, and it is abundantly available to all. I found myself needing to read over the first verse more than once to make sure I understood that the things that usually have a price are being offered at no cost.

Sometimes I worry that when things are in such abundance, I will forget their true value. I find myself worrying about this when I compare my own childhood with that of my daughter. In particular, I remember having few toys when I was little. The toys that I had, however, were played with to their fullest potential. I made the most of everything I could do with them. I did not take them for granted. In contrast, when I look around my daughter’s room, I see so many toys and things that I am certain they are not being enjoyed to their fullest potential, and I feel sad at the waste of potential that accompanies abundance.

The prophet, however, paints a different picture about abundance. In the picture he paints, abundance does not lead to waste—waste of potential or purpose. He writes that everything God gives shall accomplish the purpose for which God gives it. “It shall accomplish that which I purpose and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

What are the things that even in plenitude still accomplish their purpose? What are the things that even if given abundantly and at no cost do not lose their value? What are the things about which we can say that too much of a good thing cannot be a bad thing?


Most generous God, give me wisdom to discriminate and discern what things are good and in what measure. Bless me abundantly with those gifts that can never spoil or go to waste. For Goodness’ sake we pray. Amen.

Written by Joyce Shin, Associate Pastor for Congregational Life

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