(Taken from our Sabbath Service, July 8, 2016)
We are a community of faith. A Seventh-day Adventist congregation with beliefs, values and hope that we hold dear. Still, we live in a world that is broken, divided, and filled with heartache. A world God loves. A world we are a part of.
This week our nation was again faced with this brokenness and division:
The lives of men taken by those who had sworn to protect them.
The lives officers taken as they and their fellow officers protected peaceful protesters.
We are struggling with an enemy that is close to home, an enemy within.
Some would like to put a face on this enemy, drawing a profile with the colors of skin, contrasts of ethnicity, lines of political party, shades of wealth, and canvas of creed.
The problem, however, is not the others who do not look, act, and believe like me.
The problem is how I look at, act toward, and believe about the others, and they to me.
Scripture claims what is wrong with this world is what is wrong with me.
This world is broken because it is filled with broken people who build broken systems of governance, justice, and safety.
Sin is brokenness. Broken People make Broken Families that make Broken Societies.
Wounded within. Divided from each other. Separated from God.
Salvation is reconciliation. With God. With humanity. You cannot have one without the other. 1John 4:20 says, “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”
When we bow in worship before God we must stand in love for people.
We must stand up for those who cry out for justice.
We must we stand with those who serve justly.
Let the prophetic words of Isaiah 58 ring loud and clear. Let our voices call out together.
““Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.
The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’S holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
(Isaiah 58:1–14 NIV11-GK)