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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 49:16
See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me. (NRSV)

Isaiah’s argument throughout chapter 49 is that God hasn’t forgotten Zion. Both in this portion of Isaiah and in the Book of Lamentations, there is a sense that Zion, God’s elect, cannot be comforted. In Lamentations the specific cry is “there is no one to comfort her” (Lamentations 1:17). This people, the chosen ones of Israel, had been invaded by enemies and had been close to complete destruction. The despair was enormous.

Whether we despair as a nation, or as a community of faith, or as a disciple of Jesus Christ, comfort comes from God’s proclamation: “See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands.” At one time, that promise was seen to be for one people only. Today still, there are some who see the promise meant as a reward—for right behavior or right belief or right words.  

I find comfort in imagining myself—perhaps my name or perhaps a likeness of my face—undeservedly inscribed on God’s hand. (Think face painting, such as college football fans with their team’s logo painted on a cheek or hand or wrist or arm, smiling and cheering in the stands. Perhaps God’s hand looks like that—full of colorful inscriptions. Can you see God waving that hand from the stands, pleased to hold the hand up so we can see?) 

But it’s not just my name or my face that is inscribed. There are so many others on that palm—more than I can imagine, many that I would not suspect would be there—and that gives me comfort too. 

Dear God, I’m thankful that your palms are big enough to hold so many inscriptions. Make me humble in that knowledge. Remind me that the promise is not just for me or for a few but for more people than I can imagine. Amen.  

Written by Judith L. Watt, Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care

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