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Devotional: September 9, 2020

“This is the kind of fast day I’m after:     to break the chains of injustice,     get rid of exploitation in the workplace,     free the oppressed,     cancel debts. What I’m interested in seeing you do is:     sharing your food with the hungry,     inviting the homeless poor into your homes,     putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,     being available to your own families. Do this and the lights will turn on,     and your lives will turn around at once. Your righteousness will pave your way.     The God of glory will secure your passage. Then when you pray, God will answer.     You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.’

         Isaiah 58: 6-9      The Message

Yesterday, I took the food in the food donation box in our church foyer down to the food bank, located at Serve Wenatchee Valley. Since we have only been meeting virtually, we have been collecting fewer donations at the church. My delivery yesterday was the first time I’ve had the opportunity to do this for months. 

Now that the women’s bible study will begin meeting (with social distancing), and we have held an outdoor worship service, we have the opportunity to donate to our food donation box again. As always, there are generous opportunities to care for others in need. We are so blessed in the valley to have organizations like Serve Wenatchee Valley, which help direct food items families who reach out in need. 

This passage is loaded with strong words about how to care for those in need. Today, my focus is on the aspect of helping others who are hungry. There is a new term that is now quite common, It is “food insecurities”. For many children even in our own community, this is a very real thing. For some students who get breakfast and lunch at school, these may be their only meals of the day. Seriously! It is hard to wrap our minds around this truth, but these are the exact people whom Isaiah is speaking about. 

Here, Isaiah is frustrated with his people, and so is the Lord. Although they appear on the surface to be righteous, they are actually very mean and self-centered. Isaiah is instructing them in what they should be doing routinely, and not just when others are watching. One of the things he tells them to do is to share their food with the hungry. 

Not everyone may be able to do precisely this act. Yet sometimes there are opportunities which cross our paths. Those are the times Isaiah is also speaking to. He reminds the people that if you do such a thing, the light will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once. 

Having our lives turn around at once sounds like a rather quick response to an act of kindness or generosity. The important thing to remember is that once we have “turned around”, we are to remain facing that new, positive direction. We know that we are not saved by our good deeds, but we are called to live lives which reflect Christ’s love. God’s vision is of a world where all are cared for. We reflect Christ only when we are facing Him. 

More than anything, I believe, we want to hear the words of the Lord saying, “Here I am”. In order for us to receive the Glory of God, we, toom must speak those same words, “Lord, here I am”. 

When I was in Seminary, we would worship at Miller Chapel on the campus of Princeton Seminary. At the end of my senior year, all of the graduating seminarians and their families gathered in Miller Chapel for our final worship service. There we sang together with voices lifted in praise and prayer the hymn, “Here I am, Lord”. I must say, even to this day, there is a powerful emotion which rises within me as I remember that service. Yet that is not a hymn just for pastors. It truly should be a resounding theme of our lives. 

Today, pray with me, or even sing, the wonderful words to this hymn by John Michael Talbot:

I, the Lord of sea and sky, I have heard my people cry. All who deepest sin. My hand will save. 

I who made the stars of night, I will make their darkness bright. Who will bear my light to them? Whom shall I send?

Here I am, Lord

Is it I, Lord?

I have heard You calling in the night

I will go, Lord

If You lead me

I will hold Your people in my heart

I the Lord of snow and rain. IO have borne my people’s pain,. I have wept for love of them. They turn away. 

I will break their hearts of stone. Give them heart for love alone. I will speak my word to them. Whom shall I send.

Here I am, Lord

Is it I, Lord?

I have heard You calling in the night

I will go, Lord

If You lead me

I will hold Your people in my heart

I, the Lord of wind and flame. I will tend the poor and lame. I will set a feast for them. My hand will save. 

I will set a feast for them. My hand will save Finest bread I will provide'Til their hearts be satisfied. I will give my life to them. Whom shall I send?

Here I am, Lord

Is it I, Lord?

I have heard You calling in the night

I will go, Lord

If You lead me

I will hold Your people in my heart

Amen


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