In recent years, Chalice has featured dramatic presentations of the Isaiah scriptures found in the lectionary. A week from Sunday I will have the chance to perform the following:
The Year of the LORD’s Favor
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
. . .
8 “For I, the LORD, love justice;
I hate robbery and iniquity.
In my faithfulness I will reward them
and make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 Their descendants will be known among the nations
and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge
that they are a people the LORD has blessed.”
10 I delight greatly in the LORD;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise
spring up before all nations.
I always marvel at how versatile scripture is. It seems like this was written to express my current feeling of hopefulness for my country and my church. If I read it when I was feeling down about things, it would remind me not to despair because things will turn around; the basic goodness of the world will ultimately prevail.
I personally think this comes from the fact that scripture is a record of human experience. It is an honest retelling of the trials and tribulations of a people deeply devoted to understanding their world.
There are a couple of lines that will tempt me to turn into Samuel Jackson “reciting” Ezekiel 25:17, but I should be able to resist. [Warning: Link contains more violence than most scripture readings] By the way, the actual Ezekiel 25:17 is kind of close, but most of Jackson’s speech is sort of a Twenty-third Psalm/Sermon on the Mount/General old testament inspired fusion that is corrupted by the pulp fiction mind of the author.