The longest prophetic book in the Hebrew scriptures begins with complaints about the rebellious people of Judah in the Southern Kingdom with its capital of Jerusalem. The readings this week address their worship practices and their evil ways that oppress the most vulnerable in society.

The book of Isaiah begins not with the customary call to prophesy (Isaiah’s call is told in chapter 6), but rather by his calling the people to listen to what God has against them. Isaiah tells the people that proper offerings and rituals in the Temple mean nothing if not accompanied by proper treatment of people outside the Temple. As reported by other prophets, notably Amos in chapter 5, God has had enough of fatted animals, festivals, and incense if the poor remain oppressed and the orphan children forgotten.

How many churches have battled over worship: what kind of music to play, where to place the announcements, and how long the preacher should preach and on what? How much time goes into planning worship with great pressure to be “entertaining” and attract a younger crowd, while so little time goes into planning to change systems that make adoption difficult, that underpay working widows, or that encourage luxury condos over affordable housing? Isaiah is direct. God will not listen to our prayers—a stunning indictment of how we so glibly say, “God, hear our prayer.” Verse 15 leaves us with a difficult question to begin the week: Is there blood on our hands? Isaiah calls us to deep reflection, Does our worship lead us to acts of mercy and justice?

God of Justice and Compassion, open my ears to hear the cries of the poor, soften my heart so I can feel the pain of the wounded and hungry, make ready my hands to build a new beloved community where the smallest and most vulnerable are cared for and all are valued and respected and fed and housed. Amen.

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Leer Luke 12:32-40

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Leccionario Semanal
August 5–11, 2019
Resumen de la Escritura

The prophet Isaiah brings a harsh message to the Southern Kingdom of Israel. Although they are performing sacrifices and observing feasts, they have lost their heart for God. God wants no more meaningless sacrifices but instead wants the people to repent. The psalmist proclaims a similar message from God. The people’s sacrifices have become pointless because they have forgotten God. The primary offerings that God desires are thanksgiving and ethical living. The author of Hebrews sounds a note of harmony, emphasizing that Abraham’s faith in action—not his performance of religious duties—brings him favor with God. Jesus teaches that we cannot rest on our laurels of having faith. Instead we should remain vigilant and continue to perform acts of charity, including caring for the poor, as a response to our faith.

Preguntas para la reflexión

Read Isaiah 1:1, 10-20. Consider the author’s difficult questions: Is there blood on your hands? Does your worship lead you to acts of mercy and justice?
Read Psalm 50:1-8, 22-23. How do you offer thanksgiving as sacrifice and go in the right way?
Read Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16. How do you demonstrate faith as a verb, not just a noun?
Read Luke 12:32-40. God promises us a bountiful kingdom, but we cannot take our worldly possessions there. How do you work toward living as if you are already in God’s bountiful kingdom? How do you help to create it?

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