As I was reflecting on the lectionary readings for this week, the Isaiah passage resonated with me. Isaiah is addressing the Israelites in the Babylonian exile. The prophet is concerned that in their weariness, the Israelites might loss memory of who God has been for them. In his commentary on this passage, Richard A. Puckett, says this: “The crisis of the Babylonian exile has caused the people to forget their own story, the story of God’s attentiveness and dependability, the story of God’s love for Israel.”
The pandemic and the polarization in our nation has caused a crisis that we cannot ignore, and we face the same risk the Israelites faced then, we risk forgetting our own story and the ways in which God has intervened in human history and in our own lives. In order to avoid the tragedy of amnesia, we need to pay attention in the ways we might be forgetting our own story as individuals, as families, as congregations, and as a nation.
February is “Black History Month”. As Bishop Hope invited us this week to “…extend ourselves in new ways. Let us celebrate what we know and be enriched by learning more as we explore the intertwining history of all people.” I joined her in extending an invitation to all of our clergy and laity in our district to learn more about your own story and the story of our nation by immersing ourselves in learning more about Black history.
My own story has been enriched by my Black brothers and sisters who taught me about resilience, hospitality, advocacy, a deep and mystic spirituality, and about taking risk in my ministerial journey. Additionally, through my Black professors in seminary, I learned about the importance of acknowledging my own privilege and of questioning myself constantly about how am I using my own privilege, so that the Beloved Community might become a reality in our world.
Isaiah knows that the Israelites are tired of being in exile. For that reason, Isaiah reminds them who God is, but more significantly, Isaiah reminds them that in their tiredness, God wants to renew them. Embarking the journey of knowing our own story better and its role in our family’s story, our congregation’s story, our community’s story, and our nation’s story, is not an easy journey. It can be painful, it can be tiring, but the promise is the same for us today, “…but those who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
Let us pray the Psalm for this week:
Psalm 147:1-11, 20c
147:1 Praise the LORD! How good it is to sing praises to our God; for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting.
147:2 The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
147:3 He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.
147:4 He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.
147:5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.
147:6 The LORD lifts up the downtrodden; he casts the wicked to the ground.
147:7 Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre.
147:8 He covers the heavens with clouds, prepares rain for the earth, makes grass grow on the hills.
147:9 He gives to the animals their food, and to the young ravens when they cry.
147:10 His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the speed of a runner;
147:11 but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.
147:20c Praise the LORD!
If you would like to view past editions of Time with Ismael, follow this link: https://heritagedistrictnc.org/category/from-the-ds/