Invoke the name of the Lord? No ‘buts’ about it…

Hear this, O house of Jacob, who are called by the name of Israel,and who came forth from the loins* of Judah; who swear by the name of the Lord, and invoke the God of Israel, but not in truth or right. 2 For they call themselves after the holy city,and lean on the God of Israel; the Lord of hosts is his name.  Isaiah 48:1-11

This blog is a place where I wonder with you about what the Holy Spirit is saying to God’s people today by way of God’s Word as laid out in the Daily Common Lectionary.  I come to this space when my private time with God’s Word suggests some question about whether I am hearing God, in truth or right. 

practice what you postIt is in community – in dialogue and fellowship with each other – where I think God intends for us to unpack, question, and wonder and discern His Word.  Context  – where we live, with whom, into what family, place, circumstance we were born – is as important to discerning the daily application of the Word to our lives as it was to those used by God to record His Word, the authors of the different biblical books.

To hear God’s will for us, to hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s people here and now – to discern rightly and in truth  – we need need to be aware of our own context and how it can shape our way of hearing – or not.

I do this unpacking – discerning God’s will, voice, hand, presence, absence  – with your help, here on this blog.  And of course, in worship.

Though none may ever comment on posted public reflections or indeed, though no one may read these reflections regularly, the practice of mine to commit to pen and paper my wonderings in a public forum keeps my relationship with God’s Word, real – dare I say, keeps me honest?

I trust that God’s Word is alive – I think of it as our breath, actually – and it speaks to me anew as my context changes – as relationships end, as ministries bear fruit, as family disperses, as loved ones die, as I lose heart, as I make new friends, as I…well…as I make my way day by day in God’s world.  The blog is for me one way for me to practice what I might preach and to live authentically and honestly as I believe, for today.

I humbly – and I do mean humbly –  think of this as a courageous act on my part.  I trust God enough to have my back as I wonder – within community – with others (whether there’s anyone reading or not)  – about what God is saying today.  The exercise then sends me into the day with an open heart to see, hear and feel where the Spirit would have me go, what God would have me do, who God would have me stand with.

God’s Word speaks truth when I engage it in context here and in worship. God’s Word speaks truth always, but I have to allow it to speak to me – have to let it in, have to let it breathe, have to see where it settles in the new place, relationship, or circumstance I am in today that differs not just from the penner of a particular lectionary reading, but, too, from my own yesterday.

With the first verses of Isaiah’s proclamation I was paused.  Hear this!

O house of Jacob, who are called by the name of Israel,and who came forth from the loins* of Judah; who swear by the name of the Lord, and invoke the God of Israel

Who?  Who is to hear this? The folks to whom Isaiah was preaching, who were they, really? Who are they now?

The choir?  Possibly.  A case could be made that those ‘who swear by the name of the Lord,‘ could be comprehended in a contemporary Christian context as today’s choir.  Folks who’s participation in a church choir  – or for that matter, anyone who participates regularly in local church worship as a leader (priest, reader, deacon, acolyte, etc) confers upon them a religious identity that may – or may not – be lived authentically.

Like the house of Jacob who from all outside appearances looks to be people of the One, Holy and Living God, but…

Stop.  Full stop.  BUT.  Scary word, ‘but’.  Discounts all that comes before.

…, but not in truth or right

Like the house of Jacob, who are called by the name of Israel and who came forth from the loins of Judah, are many folks in our families, churches, communities who self-identify as Christians, who don’t reject their baptisms, but

but who God knows to be distanced from Him,

…but who God knows is out of relationship,

…but who God knows trusts not God,

but who God knows attributes blessings and setbacks to his or her own doing,

…but who God knows is not authentically connected to His Word and will.

How could one who ‘invokes the name of the Lord,’  one who is born into the faith of the One, Holy and Living God, one who may even sing of it in worship or preach it from the pulpit, not dwell in truth and right?

Who is in control of the life of those who invoke the name of the Lord, but…? To whom are they accountable? Who has agency in their lives? How does what they say they believe about God manifest in life lived?

I wonder.  That’s all I have room for in my head and heart today.  To just wonder because I find myself surrounded by so many who invoke the name of the Lord, God, but

Practicing what I am posting, I sign off with praise, to the Lord, God. Thanks to Him, I am able to wonder at all.




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