Sunday, January 29, 2017

Isaiah 58.1-12: God's Choice

The Epiphany 5A reading from Hebrew scripture is pretty direct. Isaiah 58:1-12 is a conversation between God and the nation.
   God: Go ahead. Tell the people what is wrong with how they are living. They keep saying to me,    People: "We fast, but you aren't looking. Why should we humble ourselves if you aren't going to notice."
   God: You only fast so you can quarrel about it. That kind of fasting won't get my attention. Do you think that's the kind of fasting I want? The kind of fasting I want is this:
     loose the bonds of injustice
     untie the people who are yoked fact, break all the yokes
     let the oppressed go free
     share your bread with the hungry
     bring the homeless into your homes
     clothe the naked
     Do those things. Then you'll have my attention.

Helen Siegl was born in Austria in 1924. She grew up in in Vienna during the years when National Socialism was on the rise in Germany and Austria was annexed by them. She was in Austria in the years of World War II and in the post-war years. Siegl immigrated to Canada, where she met and married Theodore Siegl. Theodore was named conservator of paintings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the family, which would grow to include eight children, settled in Pennsylvania.
Helen Siegl. Isaiah 58:7. Block print. 
In the print here Siegl illustrates Isaiah 58:7. She includes the text of the verse and a depiction of the living out of that text. It's a direct illustration of a direct instruction from God. Get rid of pointing fingers and gossiping and burdening others, start feeding the hungry and help those who are in need. Then your lives will begin to shine like the sun at noon, then I'll be guiding you through the empty places, then you'll look like a garden. Then you will be called the repairer of all things: ancient ruins of the past, shaky foundations of the future. You'll make a place where people can live.

It is a pretty direct instruction. So if we don't do these things, then, to use the metaphor found in the gospel reading (Matthew 5:13) have we indeed lost our saltiness? And if we have lost that, then what are good for?

For thoughts on I Corinthians 2:1-16, click here.
For thoughts on salt (general thoughts, not necessarily about Matthew 5:13-20), click here.

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