Tag Archive: Isaiah

How beautiful are the feet…

Last week, we asked…What would it look like to love God with one of the most precious gifts God has given – our body.   Is this one way to embody Jesus’ command to love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind?  A few days ago we said something about our eyes; then our ears, and now our hands and feet…

Those who have hands and feet let them serve

When Jesus ascended to heaven at the beginning of the book of Acts the apostles were astounded.  The man they followed for three years was gone.  He was raised from the grave, but then was lifted away from earth in a cloud.  After Jesus was gone the disciples remained standing, looking upward, until two men (angels, maybe) appeared asking, “Why do you stand looking into heaven?”  The disciples were dazed, unsure of what to do now that their leader was gone.

Perhaps Jesus’ parting words are instructive.  Moments before ascending to heaven Jesus blessed the disciples saying, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (1:8).  We may interpret Luke’s words for our own time, “We are witnesses in Louisville, Kentucky, North America, and to the ends of the earth.”

Christ’s physical body is no longer here.  But you and I, along with all Christians around the world, remain here.  The disciples, you, and I are witnesses to the power and grace of God.  Though we’re not here to remain gazing upward.  We live as the Church, Christ’s Body on this earth, in order that Christ may be known in this time and place.  We are, in fact, the continuing presence of Christ in our world and community.  We are the hands and feet of Christ.  Empowered by the Spirit of God, we continue the ministry Christ began long ago.  We are Christ’s hands today, feeding and clothing the hungry and naked.  We are Christ’s hands reaching out to touch and embrace the untouchable in our world.  We are Christ’s feet taking the message of the promise of God’s coming kingdom to all.

We, the Church, are the Body of Christ sent into the world.  What a privilege to participate in the coming of God’s kingdom, a kingdom that was inaugurated in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  How thankful we are that Christ, the light of the world, has lighted the path.  As the Psalmist praises, the Lord has drawn us up from a desolate pit, and put our feet upon a rock” (Ps. 40:2).  The light of Christ has become for us a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our path.

So, we clap our hands in praise of God on Sunday, and get our hands dirty with kingdom-building work during the week.  With our feet we run the good race Paul so often writes about, taking the good news into the world.  The prophet Isaiah reminds us, “How beautiful upon the mountain are the feet of the messenger who announces peace and brings good news” (Isa. 52:7).

Teresa of Avila, a beautifully devoted follower of Jesus in sixteenth century Spain put it appropriately: “Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours.  Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good.  Yours are the hands with which he is to bless now.”

Those who have hands and feet let them serve.


Lent 4.5 – Water

How do we use God’s gift of water more faithfully?

How do we take serious Isaiah’s words in Isaiah 41:17?

Did Jesus really mean what he said in Matthew 10:42?

“The poor and needy search for water,
but there is none;
their tongues are parched with thirst.
But I the LORD will answer them;
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.”

– Isaiah 41:17

“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”

– Matthew 10:42

“Look to the Rock from which you were cut…”

In the previous chapter Brueggemann explored how outsiders to the faith become insiders.  In chapter three, he examines how insiders to the faith who have grown “careless, weary, jaded, and cynical” are in need of evangelizing (71).  Brueggemann narrates the story of the revitalization of insiders through Moses, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Ezra-Nehemiah.

In Deuteronomy 8.1-20, Moses’ sermon tells of God’s gifts and also serves as a warning to God’s people.  Initially, Moses celebrates all that God has given – streams, springs, wheat, barely – to bless (Deut. 8.7-10).  However, Moses later warns the Israelites of the perils of forgetting the acts of God: “Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God…Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God” (Deut. 20.11-14).

Brueggemann then turns to Jeremiah, where Israel’s “forgetfulness” becomes fully manifested.  Jeremiah speaks the word of God: “When you entered, you defiled my land, and made my heritage an abomination” (Jer. 2.7).  Israel’s forgetting has caused the “well to run dry” (Jer. 2.9-13).  Later, Isaiah urges the people to recover their memory of God’s act, a memory that holds their identity.  Isaiah pleads, “look to the rock from which you were hewn” (Isa. 51.1-3).

In Nehemiah 8, Ezra makes the ultimate move and attempts to call Israel back into a proper relationship with God.  Ezra invites the “community already pledged to faith, back to a serious embrace and practice of that pledged faith.” (74)

Why did the people of Israel forget their identity and story?  Why is their forgetfulness important for today’s churches?  Brueggemann captures the essence of the answer to both questions: prosperity causes amnesia.  “The reason is that when one can no longer remember a lesser, more precarious time, all present benefits appear to be not only absolute, but also self-generated, making gratitude unnecessary, impossible, even silly” (77).

Just as Israel forget their dependence upon the provision of God, so too do church “insiders” rely upon self-sufficient strategies, programs, and schemes.  As Brueggemann puts its, Israel’s crisis parallels the U.S. Church.  “Abundance and affluence have caused church members to be distanced in self-sufficiency from the power and cruciality of the memory so that the church suffers from profound amnesia, even among those of us who vigorously go through the motions (72).  It is for this reason, Brueggemann argues, that church insiders are becoming “forgetters” in need of remembering God’s acts of love, mercy, and grace.

On one point, I fully agree with Brueggemann, the reality of amnesia is massive among us.  Amnesia causes the church to lack in any serious missional energy (90).  Oftentimes, we summons our inner Bob Dylan and cry out, “The times are a-changin!  How will we meet the new needs of new people out there?”  We fail to remember, celebrate, and draw strength upon what God has already done in our midst.

I also wonder, is it only our wealth, abundance, and security that causes us to forget?  Is our [U.S. Church] memory of God’s act short-circuited solely by our general prosperity?  Perhaps our wealth is not the problem.  Perhaps amnesia is not the only hindrance.  What if, at times, we remember all too well?  What if we suffer not from amnesia, but nostalgia?  What if church “insiders” get caught up in the way it used to be?  What if we are unable to move beyond past practices of liturgy, programs, outreach that worked long ago, but no longer connect with the world around us?  Is there a danger if the Church becomes too nostalgic?  Whether amnesia or nostalgia inflicts the Church, Brueggemann is correct: the evangelization of insiders may be our primary agenda in evangelism.

This is the third review in a five-part series looking at Walter Brueggemann’s Biblical Perspectives on Evangelism.

Lectionary, Febraury 8

The Revised Common Lectionary texts for this week:

Isaiah 40:21-31

Psalm 147:1-11, 20c

1 Corinthians 9:16-23

Mark 1:29-39

The Revised Common Lectionary texts for this week:

Isaiah 60:1-6

Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14

Ephesians 3:1-12

Matthew 2:1-12

The Revised Common Lectionary texts for this week:

Isaiah 61:10 – 62:3

Psalm 148

Galatians 4:4-7

Luke 2:22-40

The Revised Common Lectionary texts for Christmas Day:

Isaiah 52:7-10

Psalm 98

Hebrews 1:1-4 (5-12)

John 1:1-14

The Revised Common Lectionary texts for Christmas Eve:

Isaiah 9:2-7

Psalm 96

Titus 2:11-14

Luke 2:1-20

The Revised Common Lectionary texts for this week:

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

Psalm 126

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

John 1:6-8, 19-28

The Revised Common Lectionary texts for this week:

Isaiah: 40:1-11

Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13

2 Peter 3:8-15a

Mark 1:1-8

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