The Rev. Canon Jan Naylor Cope
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.
If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.
Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to live in.
If you refrain from trampling the sabbath,
from pursuing your own interests on my holy day;
if you call the sabbath a delight
and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
serving your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs;
then you shall take delight in the Lord,
and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Jacob,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
In the 58th chapter of Isaiah, the great prophet is addressing a community in conflict. Scholars believe that Isaiah conducted his ministry approximately 700 years before Christ, yet his oracle seems to speak directly to the world we inhabit today – over 2700 years later:
- the pointing of the finger and the speaking of evil –
- the call to feed the hungry and to satisfy the needs of the afflicted –
The darkness in our world desperately needs the light to come…the Lord to guide us and to satisfy our needs in parched places. And who doesn’t want to be like a watered garden, a spring of water, whose waters never fail? It is never just about our own quenched needs, however. Isaiah calls his community to raise up the foundations of many generations and to be repairers of the breach.
Isaiah challenged his community, and his oracle continues to challenge us, to be repairers of the breach. In his first sermon as our new dean, Randy Hollerith called all of us to be repairers of the breach. He beckoned us to “…work to repair that which is broken in your own lives and in the lives of those around you.” This is holy work, urgent work, and work to which we are all called. In this season of Lent as we journey to Calvary and the cross, may our response to God mirror that of Isaiah, “Here am I; send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)
Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon our infirmities, and in all our dangers and necessities stretch forth your right hand to help and defend us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Book of Common Prayer