In this addition of From the
Pastor's Desk we hear about two specific human conditions where God's compassionate concern breaks through the void of human despair and
brings a present comfort to specific people. The Divine pathos, or emotion of God, comes with immediate aid for these persons in special
circumstances, but more than that, the all-caring One provides a hope for the future. God knows that immediate comfort and a hope-filled
future are critical requirements for us if we are going to excel in life and live to the fullest of our human and spiritual potential.
For us, as the people of Christ's Church, it is necessary that we do not feel abandoned or isolated like
foreigners in a strange land. Furthermore, we need to be assured that there will be future generations beyond us who will live out our
faith, adopt our heritage, and carry out the traditions that make us a distinct part of Christ's Body in the particular place where God
has called us. Consider now how Isaiah's words may be speaking to you as an individual child of God as well as a member of the whole
Church. Pray that the Spirit would enable you to hear and to take in what is good from these words.
Isaiah 56:1-7 (from readings for the 13th Sunday after Pentecost, Aug. 18, 2002)
"Thus says the Lord: Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance
will be revealed. Happy is the mortal who does this, the one who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it, and refrains
from doing any evil. Do not let the foreigner joined to the Lord say, 'The Lord will surely separate me from his people'; and do not let
the eunuch say, 'I am just a dry tree.' For thus says the Lord: To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please
me and hold fast my covenant, I will give, in my house and within my walls, a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will
give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off. And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love
the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, all who keep the Sabbath, and do not profane it, and hold fast my covenant -- these I will
bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my
altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples."
These words of Isaiah tell us that God remembers and is compassionate towards persons who suffer from
infertility or who may otherwise not have children of their own. The passage also speaks to the people who have not been "born" into the
faith. It may seem odd that these two groups of persons have been addressed in this particular passage, but it is significant that the
Lord remembers those who mourn quietly the loss of the possibility of posterity and that the Lord is also concerned for those who are
estranged from their native lands or families. There are many examples in the scriptures where the Lord takes a special interest in
people who come from other lands and now wish to be accepted into the fold of God's family. Our God is not exclusive of anyone, but
instead, Yahweh-God desires to be known by the people who have otherwise felt rejected or ignored by the popular society around them.
We may think of popular society as the "kingdom of this world" -- in Isaiah's time, it was the ruling class of
Israel who established who was acceptable and "who" should be scorned or ignored. As it was, the religious community readily rejected a
man or a woman who was infertile or who suffered a physical defect. It was almost a death sentence to be found "not normal", as this
person would be put out of the camp or not allowed to eat with others who were considered "clean and whole". Unfortunately, there are
certain areas in our lives today where act the same way. In many instances we are the ones who do not wish to associate with certain
other people who do not fit into our definition of "normal" or who are not fit for our company.
But, God's ways are not our ways and we must learn to adopt God's ways and to rid ourselves of the negative ways
that we take for ourselves too often. God desires mercy and not judgment. Growing into the kingdom requires genuine growth and the
maturity to know people as God does, not judging from outward appearances, but looking for the inner beauty. Amen
Peace to all, serve and love the
Lord with sincerity and diligence, and above all, glory
in the salvation of our God through Jesus Christ our