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Friday, January 8, 2016

Today’s Reading | Isaiah 43:1–13    

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life. Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you; I will say to the north, “Give them up,” and to the south, “Do not withhold; bring my sons from far away and my daughters from the end of the earth-- everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

Bring forth the people who are blind, yet have eyes, who are deaf, yet have ears! Let all the nations gather together, and let the peoples assemble. Who among them declared this, and foretold to us the former things? Let them bring their witnesses to justify them, and let them hear and say, “It is true.” You are my witnesses, says the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. (NRSV)

Israel was coming out of exile when Isaiah prophesied these words, meaning the people were indeed being drawn from east, west, north, and south as they returned home. And with this repopulation came a challenge: in order for God’s great redemptive work to be known, the Israelites had to live as God’s people. Mixed messages would not do. Silence would not do. Instead, God (through the voice of Isaiah) insists that we are witnesses to this world, and it is through our well-being that God will be known.

This January season is often one of the most retrospective and introspective times of year; a new year begins, offering us opportunities to reorient ourselves towards the people that we wish ourselves to be. As we go about that process, may these words from Isaiah ring in our ears: “You are my witnesses and my servant whom I have chosen.”

As God’s people, let us reorient our lives around those things in life we hold most dear, that in doing so we might witness to God’s great love.

Great and loving God, I am so grateful for all the blessings that I have received from you. In gratitude, I offer the best of myself to you and my neighbor in order that your love might shine clearly in this world. Amen.

Written by Matt Helms, Minister for Children and Families

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