My second year in seminary, I wrote an exegetical paper on this week’s Isaiah reading. This is such a delicate piece of scripture, and yet it’s more powerful than we can imagine. It’s a bit long, but here is a version I translated for that paper:
This is what THE DIVINE says:
“Protect justice and formulate righteousness , you people,
because my act of deliverance is soon to come
and my act of righteousness is soon to be revealed.”
And in regard to the child of the Other,
who has been joined to THE HOLY ONE,
who ministers to THE HOLY ONE, who loves THE DIVINE,
who becomes THE HOLY ONE’s servants,
all who guard the Sabbath from desecration,
and who is firm in THE HOLY ONE’s covenant,
THE DIVINE has said:
“I will bring them to the mountain of my sacredness,
and I will bring them joyfully into the house of my prayer.
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices of righteousness
will be fruitful upon my altar.
Surely, my house will be proclaimed a house of prayer for all people.”
This is the declaration of my Lord, THE DIVINE,
who gathers the driven-out of Israel:
“I will gather those who have not yet been gathered
before those who have already been gathered.”
(Isaiah 56:1,6-8, MDJ)
This piece of prophecy is important for two reasons. First, God is begging all of creation to fight for justice. Not just Israel, not just the church ladies, not just those “spiritual-but-not-religious” folks. Everyone. It’s as if she’s saying, “It’s your job as a human to care for other humans.” Second, God is telling the “insiders” that the “outsiders” are welcome – in fact, the “outsiders” are more welcome than the “insiders!” Such a curve ball could only come from a God who tenderly loves all of creation.
We live in a world that says you aren’t welcome. We live in a world that says you aren’t worthy. We live in a world that says you aren’t enough.
And in that world, God says “you are.”
You are welcome. You are worthy. You are enough.