Here is your e-votional for this week…
“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;
sto proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;”-Isaiah 61: 1-2
Words of comfort from the prophets should always be appreciated because they are rare. Isaiah had a lot of hard truths to share with the people of Israel; things which none of us would have wanted to hear. And yet he still found an occasion to offer them hope. But it is the orientation of that hope that I want to discuss today. If you haven’t gathered it by now let me reiterate, the overwhelming angle of hope in the Old Testament is slanted towards those on the bottom rungs of society’s ladder. Over and over again we read the words, “oppressed, prisoners,” and “all who mourn.” God’s good news of hope and justice is shared particularly for them.
All of us like to imagine we fit these categories, and in some ways we might, but the truth is that many of us do not hear these words in the same way as those who bear greater hardships than we can imagine. I am reminded of an important truth about the growth of Christianity in the world today. Even as we lament its decline in the Global West, our faith is exploding in the Global South. In the nations of South America and Africa, churches are booming. Could some of that explosive growth be related to the slant of God’s hope? Could the voices of the prophets sound differently to their ears than our own? I think they might.
In North America we often stifle the voices of the prophet. We do not often talk of the oppressed, the prisoner or those who mourn, and perhaps we should. Perhaps the Church should stop trying to “grow” and should start trying to be a visible reminder of God’s hope in the world. Consider your own life for a moment. Has God’s hope not taken root in your life? Do you not live in the powerful hope of Jesus Christ? Hope has been one of the driving forces in human history and it is certainly powering the explosion of Christianity in other parts of the globe. God is at work in this world and in all our lives. We all need God’s love, justice and hope, in particular those who suffer the most.
These words of comfort from Isaiah also offer us a powerful reminder of the hope we find in God. As we think about the rest of this day, and the days which lie ahead, why don’t we try to better embody the hope in which we believe, and which we have so often heard proclaimed.
Prayer: Holy God, thank you for your work in this world. Help me to remember the hope that I have received from you, and the work to which I have been called in this world. I ask that you would guide me this day as your servant, and help me to be a source of love for others. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.