Isaiah’s warning to the people of Israel is startling. God’s people have gone astray, and their elaborate worship practices have become an abomination. They observe the festivals and offer sacrifices, but their worship is hollow. They offend God, because the faith they profess and the faith they live are two very different things. God’s people have become hypocrites. They have forgotten that the purpose of worship is to stir faith into action, apathy into compassion, and complacency into service.
Has the distance of time erased the truth of Isaiah’s prophecy? We might like to think so, but modern worshipers are not all that different from worshipers of long ago. We still have difficulty translating our faith into action. And all these centuries later, our hands are still stained with the blood of sin.
In this season of preparation, let us take the prophet’s words to heart. Let us hear him speak honestly to us, calling us into account for our wrongdoing, pleading with us to repent—to cease doing evil, learn to do good, seek justice, and correct oppression. And may we humbly accept God’s gracious invitation to be washed clean of our sin by the blood of Christ.
Prayer: Loving God, help us to see the error of our ways and stir our faith into action, compassion, and service, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Today’s devotion was written by Paulette McHugh,
Vicar at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Lexington, SC.