Archive for the ‘Isaiah 48’ Tag

Devotion for Wednesday After the Second Sunday After Epiphany, Year A (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   2 comments

Restless Weaver

Above:  The Copyright Information for “Restless Weaver,” an Excellent 1988 and 1993 Hymn, Number 658 in Chalice Hymnal (1995)

The Old and the New

JANUARY 22, 2020


The Collect:

Holy God, our strength and our redeemer,

by your Spirit hold us forever, that through your grace we may

worship you and faithfully serve you,

follow you and joyfully find you,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 22


The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 48:12-21

Psalm 40:6-17

Matthew 9:14-17


Let all who seek you rejoice in you and be glad;

let those who love your salvation say always, “The Lord is great.”

–Psalm 40:17, The Book of Common Prayer (2004)


The words of a dying church, I have heard, are

We’ve never done it that way before.

The Bible speaks again and again of God doing new things and provides examples–the main one being the Incarnation and all that flowed from it.  The tension between the traditional and the innovative is an old story.  One can find both gold and dross among both the old and the new.  Yet how can one distinguish between the dross and the gold?

That is a difficult question, one worth wrestling with over time.  My study of the past tells me that hindsight proves useful.  Traditional interpretations of the Bible in the Antebellum U.S. South affirmed chattel slavery.  Thus, according to that standard, abolitionists were heretics.  Yet the alleged heretics were really the orthodox and the alleged orthodox were really the heretics.  The new was superior to the old.   Yet hindsight does not exist in the moment.  That is a problem.

Here is another example:  I like hymns with theologically deep words.  These hymns might be old or new.  Their value does not depend on their age.  But “seven-eleven songs”–songs with seven words one sings eleven times–are dross.  Thus I despise praise songs and choruses, heaping upon them a great amount of undying contempt for their shallowness.

Striking the proper balance between the old and the new can prove difficult.  I propose a standard from Philip H. Pfatteicher, an expert on Lutheran liturgy.  He wrote:

…the new is not always found in opposition to the old but arises from the old as its natural growth and development.  Stability and continuity are essential elements of catholic Christianity.

Commentary on the Lutheran Book of Worship:  Lutheran Liturgy in Its Ecumenical Context (Minneapolis, MN:  Augsburg Fortress, 1990), page 10

It is good to remember that our traditions began as innovations.  They became traditions only with the passage of time.  And neither theology nor liturgy should function as museums.  Yet neither ought the faddish displace the tried-and-true, as my studies of liturgical development have revealed.  (Some 1970-1972 liturgies have not aged well.)

Furthermore, some issues are questions purely of taste, with no right or wrong involved.  One ought to recall that also.

Isaiah 48:12-21 condemns the faithlessness of both Chaldea and Judah yet ends with the promise of the redemption of the latter.

If you had only listened to my commands,

verse 18a reads in The Revised English Bible (1989).  The commands of God are old sometimes and new on other occasions, from our temporal perspectives.  May we, by grace, identify these commands and follow them, separating the new and worthy from the new and faddish and the old and worthy from the old and erroneous.  So, with the worthy old and the worthy new, may we rejoice in the Lord.







Thirteenth Day of Advent   10 comments

An Oasis in Libya

Image Source = Sfivat




Isaiah 48:17-19 (Revised English Bible):

Thus says the LORD your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:

I am the LORD your God:

I teach you in the way of your own well-being

and lead you in the way you should go.

If only you had listened to my commands,

your prosperity would have rolled like a river,

your success like the waves of the sea;

your children would have been like the sand in number,

your descendants countless as its grains;

their name would never be erased or blotted from my sight.

Psalm 1 (Revised English Bible):

Happy is the one

who does not take the counsel of the wicked for a guide,

or follow the path that sinners tread,

or take his seat in the company of scoffers.

His delight is in the law of the LORD;

it is his meditation day and night.

He is like a tree planted beside water channels;

it yields its fruit in season

and its foliage never fades.

So he too prospers in all he does.

The wicked are not like this;

rather they are like chaff driven by the wind.

When judgment comes, therefore, they will not stand firm,

nor will sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

The LORD watches over the way of the righteous,

but the way of the wicked is doomed.

Matthew 11:16-19 (Revised English Bible):

[Jesus said,]

How can I describe this generation?  They are like children sitting in the market-place and calling to each other,

“We piped for you and you would not dance.

We lamented, and you would not mourn.”

For John came, neither eating nor drinking, and people say, “He is possessed”; the Son of Man came, eating and drinking, and they say, “Look at him!  A glutton and a drinker, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!”  Yet God’s wisdom is proved right by its results.

The Collect:

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


First, a joke:  An Episcopal congregation welcomed its first female priest.  Yet two men in the church were weary of having a woman as their pastor.  They invited her to go fishing with them.  The priest agreed.  When the three of them were in a boat in a lake, the priest realized that she had left her fishing gear on the ground.  So she excused herself and walked across the water to collect what she needed to begin fishing.  One man turned to the other and said,

See, she can’t even swim.

As a sign I own says,


Yet, as this day’s readings remind us, results matter.  We should know this, for this conclusion is intuitive.  During this life many of those who lie, cheat, and steal shamelessly and habitually succeed for a long time, perhaps until they die.  Meanwhile, numerous honest and devout people struggle to make ends meet and to provide adequately for their families and themselves.  Banditry of certain varieties is legal on Wall Street, so a relative prosper because of their immorality while they place others at a disadvantage.  This is an old story.

Yet there is justice with God.  We know trees by their fruit, and we reap what we sow.  If we sow justice, we reap the common good.  If we sow love, we reap a good society.  Yet if we sow fear, we reap hatred.  And if we sow injustice, we reap social discord and economic inequality.  In the end God, who by grace labels all who follow him “acceptable,” does not excuse injustice.

The purpose of the Gospel is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.  Thanks be to God!


Written on May 31, 2010

Posted September 15, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2021-2022, December 10, Episcopal Church Lectionary

Tagged with , ,