Daily Devotion – August 18, 2020 – Dr. Pat Taylor Ellison

Isaiah 56:1, 6-8
56:1 Thus says the LORD: Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed.
56:6 And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, all who keep the sabbath, and do not profane it, and hold fast my covenant–
56:7 these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.
56:8 Thus says the Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, I will gather others to them besides those already gathered.

The Lord has a history of befriending outcasts, those not part of the original “chosen” for whatever reason. The Lord takes the side of the ones left apart, not marching to the main drummer. We keep thinking that shouldn’t be so. Probably because we feel we are among the “chosen.” But it should not surprise us. In his journey on earth, Jesus surely added to this character sketch of God, hanging out with fishermen and tax collectors instead of the religious leaders who should have been awaiting his arrival.

So this passage from Isaiah reminds us to make sure justice is done for everyone, because you never know when you are helping someone weird and forgotten, you might be helping one of God’s favorites.
And lest we be suspicious and avoiding of strangers, foreigners, right there in verse 6 it is very clear that foreigners who join themselves to the Lord will be brought to God’s holy mountain. God’s house is to be a house of prayer for all peoples.

I don’t think this prophetic word was any easier for the Israelites to hear than it is for us to hear. Everyone finds foreign ways puzzling and is wary of them. Especially when those ways might represent a completely new and different way of living the faith. So let’s be gentle. With foreigners and with ourselves. With people whose ways seem strange to us. And with ourselves, to give ourselves time to think things through and try things on.  I have seen it happen many times that people who are foreign to one another but who share the same desires to uplift their community can be easy with one another, be kind to one another, and together serve God.  If God is the boss of everyone, after all, why does it seem so strange that humans of many different stripes might be able to get along as they do God’s work together? When that happens, everyone gets blessed.

Holy God, Lord of All, Thank you for loving us. Help us to be gentle with foreigners and to use the gifts you have given us to do your work, together with whomever you have given us to learn from. Remind us that your world is very very big indeed and has a lot of room for workers of many kinds.   Amen.