Friday, December 22
The Good News of Deliverance
Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.
Many of us probably have little experience with what it means to have our freedom taken from us. Many of us have never been incarcerated or imprisoned. Truth be told, I have a very hard time imagining what it must be like to be imprisoned. I try not to think about it because it's too devastatingly horrific for me.
But it's a reality many have faced and do face. Isaiah spoke to God's people who were not necessarily in cells or chains (although some were), but their freedom was taken from them as they were driven from their homes and exiled from their land. Isaiah voiced God's promise to deliver the people. One day they would be free.
In the US, incarceration rates have nearly tripled in recent years, despite the declining rate of violent crime. Many of those locked up are victims of drug addiction and would likely benefit more from treatment than incarceration. There have been so many prisoners, in fact, that over recent years private prisons have opened up and have begun housing the overflow of prisoners. But that is about to change. Recently, the DOJ has agreed to phase out the use of private prisons, some of which have been dirty, corrupt, and unsafe. By addressing the issues that lead to incarceration, we can begin to heal the country. We can proclaim freedom to those who are held captive by poverty, addiction, and hopelessness.
Narrative Lectionary Text: Isaiah 61:1-11
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion— to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, foreigners shall till your land and dress your vines; but you shall be called priests of the Lord, you shall be named ministers of our God; you shall enjoy the wealth of the nations, and in their riches you shall glory. Because their shame was double, and dishonor was proclaimed as their lot, therefore they shall possess a double portion; everlasting joy shall be theirs. For I the Lord love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.