A sermon idea based on Isaiah 58:9b-14.
Isaiah 58:9b-14 NRSV
[9b] 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.
The relevant topic I would be addressing, based on this text…
It’s never just about one person. When we care for everyone in the community, the whole community enjoys God’s good blessings.
Information about the text that matters to the message…
This passage is part of a larger section in which the prophet is pointing the way to real repentance and genuine worship. True fasting isn’t just doing without food in order to keep the rules or impress God and others. Rather, real fasting and worship are about repenting of our selfishness and sinfulness and returning to the mission of being good and loving toward others in God’s name.
Stop pointing fingers. Stop speaking evil of other people. Instead, make sure everyone is treated with love and respect. Make sure everyone is included. Make sure everyone gets fed and is cared for by the community.
When our concerns turn from self to others, from our own little kingdom to the greater expansion of the Kingdom of God around us, then God is glorified and our light really shines.
The big call-to-action in the message…
We all tend to take care of ourselves, by nature, but caring for others requires intentionality. For whom can you show love and concern this week?
About the Cover Art: Lange, Dorothea. Great Depression: unemployed, destitute man leaning against vacant store, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.
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