What Good Is Your Religion?
February 08, 2021
Is your faith alive and transforming?
Is it making a difference in your life, in your community?
Is it making you kinder, gentler, more likely to engage with the broken, and more likely to heal the hurt of the world?
Isaiah 58:1-12 (NRSV)Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet!Announce to my people their rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins.Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God. "Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?"Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers.Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist.Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes?Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.Galatians 6:11-18 (NRSV)See what large letters I make when I am writing in my own hand! It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh that try to compel you to be circumcised-- only that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. Even the circumcised do not themselves obey the law, but they want you to be circumcised so that they may boast about your flesh.May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything!As for those who will follow this rule-- peace be upon them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. From now on, let no one make trouble for me; for I carry the marks of Jesus branded on my body. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.Mark 9:30-41 (NRSV)They went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, "The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again."But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him. Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, "What were you arguing about on the way?"But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, "Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all."Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me."John said to him, "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us."But Jesus said, "Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward.Psalm 80To the leader: on Lilies, a Covenant. Of Asaph. A Psalm.Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,you who lead Joseph like a flock!You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forthbefore Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh.Stir up your might,and come to save us!Restore us, O God;let your face shine, that we may be saved.O Lord God of hosts,how long will you be angry with your people’s prayers?You have fed them with the bread of tears,and given them tears to drink in full measure.You make us the scorn of our neighbors;our enemies laugh among themselves.Restore us, O God of hosts;let your face shine, that we may be saved.You brought a vine out of Egypt;you drove out the nations and planted it.You cleared the ground for it;it took deep root and filled the land.The mountains were covered with its shade,the mighty cedars with its branches;it sent out its branches to the sea,and its shoots to the River.Why then have you broken down its walls,so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit?The boar from the forest ravages it,and all that move in the field feed on it.Turn again, O God of hosts;look down from heaven, and see;have regard for this vine,the stock that your right hand planted.They have burned it with fire, they have cut it down;may they perish at the rebuke of your countenance.But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand,the one whom you made strong for yourself.Then we will never turn back from you;give us life, and we will call on your name.Restore us, O Lord God of hosts;let your face shine, that we may be saved.
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.