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Wednesday, October 7, 2020
Today’s Scripture Reading | Isaiah 25:1–9
O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you, I will praise your name; for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure. For you have made the city a heap, the fortified city a ruin; the palace of aliens is a city no more, it will never be rebuilt. Therefore strong peoples will glorify you; cities of ruthless nations will fear you. For you have been a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in their distress, a shelter from the rainstorm and a shade from the heat. When the blast of the ruthless was like a winter rainstorm, the noise of aliens like heat in a dry place, you subdued the heat with the shade of clouds; the song of the ruthless was stilled.
On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear. And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever. Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.
It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation. (NRSV)
After the summer of 2020—with its weekends of looting, destruction, and tension—verse two of this passage lands differently than it did six months ago.
For you have made the city a heap, the fortified city a ruin;
the palace of aliens is a city no more, it will never be rebuilt.
While those words prompt me to ask lots of question about economic disparity, urban politics, and the identity of “aliens,” they also lead straight into verses 3 and 4, in which the prophet says that “ruthless nations” will honor God because “God is a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in distress.”
God’s strength and power come from God’s care for those whom others ignore and oppress.
So do ours.
Though there is a lot to wonder about in this passage, what’s clear is how God is and what God wants. God gives refuge. God stills the uproars caused by ruthlessness. God provides the best food and drink for everyone. God uncovers and untangles. God comforts. God saves.
The work of justice and mercy is work, and there is much to do. But the clarion call of Isaiah is a steadying encouragement to keep at it.
God will provide the feast: I need to set the table.
Saving God, be my refuge and hope, my shelter and shade as I discern my way through a world as complicated as this one. Through the mercy of Jesus—Amen.
Written by Susan Quaintance, Director, Center for Life and Learning
Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church
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