Daily Office Readings for Friday of the 4th Week of Epiphany: Year 1
“Happy is the mortal who does this, the one who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it, and refrains from doing any evil.” (Isaiah 56:2 to5)
I share with you today a heavy dose of our Isaiah reading for today. It is all about the inclusiveness of God and the invitation to all people to enjoy a Sabbath time now as a preparation for that eternal Sabbath yet to come eternal in the heavens.
I don’t believe this is about making all people Jewish, at least as we (of this day and time), have come to understand what it means to be Jewish. But I will say this for myself; I would rather be Jewish and have eternal life than be outside that gathering and cease to exist. From Ruth to the Magi of Matthew’s Gospel, many have put their own ethnicity aside to see what God is doing in the midst of the descendents of Abraham. Me too.
These are the words written in the name of the Prophet Isaiah and are often used by our Lord Jesus as he performed many of his signs and wonders for those outside Israel. Isaiah says, “And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, all who keep the Sabbath, and do not profane it, and hold fast my covenant— these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. Thus says the Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, I will gather others to them besides those already gathered.” (Isaiah 56: 6 to 8) My brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, this is as inclusive as it gets.
Today, in Christianity, we remember the Martyrs of Japan: the most remarkable thing for me is that when Christian worship was outlawed, it stayed secret and underground in Japan for 250 years, (from 1630 to 1880). True Christianity is a powerful and undefeatable presence.
Today is Friday, for this evening: Shabbat Shalom.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do. John