Isaiah 59:1-16a

Friends,

Here are a few words from Isaiah. I do not know how accurately Isaiah’s words describe the context of his day, but I do know that his words are very accurate for our day…

Grace, Alan

 

Isaiah 59:1-16a

See, the Lord’s hand is not too short to save,
    nor his ear too dull to hear.
2Rather, your iniquities have been barriers
    between you and your God,
and your sins have hidden his face from you
    so that he does not hear.
3For your hands are defiled with blood,
    and your fingers with iniquity;
your lips have spoken lies,
    your tongue mutters wickedness.
4No one brings suit justly,
    no one goes to law honestly;
they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies,
    conceiving mischief and begetting iniquity.
5They hatch adders’ eggs,
    and weave the spider’s web;
whoever eats their eggs dies,
    and the crushed egg hatches out a viper.
6Their webs cannot serve as clothing;
    they cannot cover themselves with what they
    make. Their works are works of iniquity,
    and deeds of violence are in their hands.
7Their feet run to evil,
    and they rush to shed innocent blood;
    their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity,
    desolation and destruction are in their highways.
8The way of peace they do not know,
    and there is no justice in their paths.
Their roads they have made crooked;
    no one who walks in them knows peace.

9Therefore justice is far from us,
    and righteousness does not reach us;
we wait for light, and lo! there is darkness;
    and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.
10We grope like the blind along a wall,
    groping like those who have no eyes;
we stumble at noon as in the twilight,
    among the vigorous as though we were dead.
11We all growl like bears;
    like doves we moan mournfully.
We wait for justice, but there is none;
    for salvation, but it is far from us.
12For our transgressions before you are many,
    and our sins testify against us.
Our transgressions indeed are with us,
    and we know our iniquities:
13transgressing, and denying the Lord,
    and turning away from following our God,
talking oppression and revolt,
    conceiving lying words and uttering them from the
    heart.
14Justice is turned back,
    and righteousness stands at a distance;
for truth stumbles in the public square,
    and uprightness cannot enter.
15Truth is lacking,
    and whoever turns from evil is despoiled.

The Lord saw it, and it displeased him
    that there was no justice.
16aHe saw that there was no one,
    and was appalled that there was no one to intervene.

 

Pruned free of fear

 

Friends,

Alexei Navalny is a political prisoner in Russia, facing potentially 20 years in jail. We know about political prisoners from our own history. Here he speaks before a closed court, consisting of 18 people, seven of which are wearing masks. I include it today because his words need to be heard by the world. Not only because he speaks truth about one particular violently corrupt and oppressive regime, Russia, but because he addresses the universal human question on how to act. How to live. What are we going to choose to spend our one God-given life on?  His clarity is rooted in courage pruned free of fear. Like Mandela’s Rivonia Trial statement. Like St. Paul’s prison letters. It is political. It is philosophy. It is poetry. It is real. ChatGPT could not write it. No need to get lost in the specifics. Focus on the principled truth. Make it your own.

Read the English transcript (go to Google translate and select English tab) from his latest trial.
(Meduza)

Grace,
Alan

Psalm 139

 

Friends,

It is impossible to reflect on Psalm 139 too deeply. To reflect on its meaning too carefully. Regardless of how many times we read Psalm 139 we will always be defeated by its beauty.

For this reason we return again to read and be lead by Psalm 139.

In grace,
Alan

Psalm 139

O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
    and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
    O Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
    it is so high that I cannot attain it.

7Where can I go from your spirit?
    Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
    if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning
    and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
    and your right hand shall hold me fast.
11 If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me,
    and the light around me become night’,
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
    the night is as bright as the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

For it was you who formed my inward parts;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
    Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
    all the days that were formed for me,
    when none of them as yet existed.
17 How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
    I come to the end—I am still with you.

O that you would kill the wicked, O God,
    and that the bloodthirsty would depart from me—
20 those who speak of you maliciously,
    and lift themselves up against you for evil!
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
    And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with perfect hatred;
    I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my thoughts.
24 See if there is any wicked way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.