Tag Archives: Isaiah

Between the Lines: Lent 5: March 17, 2013

Text: Isaiah 43:16-21

Sons of the American Revolution

Sons of the American Revolution (Photo credit: bon_here)

Do not remember
the former things,
or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not
perceive it?

Some interpreters suggest that in this passage, the Lord (through Isaiah) is calling on the Israelites to rethink how they tell the story of their founding. No longer are they to focus on the crossing of the Red Sea (who makes a way in the sea) and the defeat of Pharaoh’s army (chariot and horse, army and warrior). They are rather to recall the journey through the desert (a way in the wilderness).

For a people in exile in Babylonia, what difference might it make to refocus their national story from success in battle to sustenance on a wilderness way?

How do you or those around you tell your national story? What are the key events, the shared memories, the cherished figures? What might it mean to tell the national story in a different way? What might happen if we did not remember the former things? What new things might we be freed up to see?

– Andy Kille

“Between the Lines” is excerpted from BibleWorkbench, a weekly resource for engaging the biblical story in a new way published by the Educational Center in Charlotte, NC.  For details and subscription information, see About BibleWorkbench.

Between the Lines: Epiphany: January 6, 2013

Text: Isaiah 60:1-6

Arise, shine, for your light has come…


Candle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Go find a candle, and a box of matches.  Put it on the table in front of you.

Draw the shades, and turn out the light.  Sit in the darkness, and remember those times in your life which have been dark, when you have been exiled, removed from all that was familiar and loved.  Take a deep breath, stand up, arise, and light the candle.  Sit there and remind yourself of those forces of light in your life right now.  What can you see that you couldn’t see in the darkness?  What gift does the light bring?  What light could you bring into a darker world?  What candle might you light?

– Beth Harrison

“Between the Lines” is excerpted from BibleWorkbench, a weekly resource for engaging the biblical story in a new way published by the Educational Center in Charlotte, NC.  For details and subscription information, see About BibleWorkbench.

Between the Lines: Pentecost 21: October 21, 2012

Text: Isaiah 53:4-12

Portion of a photographic reproduction of the ...

The Great Isaiah Scroll from Qumran, showing all of Isaiah 53.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.

I’ve always struggled with the mythology of the suffering servant, the story told here in Isaiah and claimed by the Christian tradition as a foretelling of Jesus’ role in human history.  So I ask, if religious faith serves, at least in part, as an expression of psychological truth, how does this myth of the suffering servant function in the modern world and in our own lives?

What really happens when you or I take on the sins and suffering of others on their behalf? How does such suffering manifest itself in us physically, emotionally, and spiritually? What happens to those we’ve “saved”? Describe the healing that does (or doesn’t) take place? What movement toward wholeness do we initiate—for ourselves, for the other, for the world? What does such vicarious atonement do to our relationships with those we’ve saved? To our relationships with other loved ones? To a relationship with ourselves? To our relationship with God? Does being a servant require suffering? Is suffering a form of serving? And, if so, who does it really serve?

– Kathie Collins

“Between the Lines” is excerpted from BibleWorkbench, a weekly resource for engaging the biblical story in a new way published by the Educational Center in Charlotte, NC. For details and subscription information, see About BibleWorkbench.

Between the Lines: Epiphany 5: February 5, 2012

Text: Isaiah 40:21-31

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.

The Runner.

Image via Wikipedia

What do you know about running and growing weary? About walking so long and far that you feel faint? How in your life are you experiencing such things these days? Where are you running? After what? Away from what? What are symptoms that such running is wearing you down and causing you to grow weary? Where are you walking? Headed where for what? When along the way do you feel faint? What do you suppose is meant by “waiting for the Lord”? How might one do such waiting? Wait rather than what? When was the last time you waited for anyone or anything? What might you do to experiment with “waiting for the Lord” in terms of prayer and meditation, working and playing, giving and receiving, winning and losing, doing and being? The promise is that it will renew your strength and that you will mount up with wings like an eagle. Consider the possibility rather than running and walking through your days as usual.

– Bill Dols

Between the Lines: Advent 1: November 27, 2011

Text: Isaiah 64:1-9

O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,
so that the mountains would quake at your presence—
as when fire kindles brushwood
and the fire causes water to boil—
to make your name known to your adversaries,
so that the nations might tremble at your presence!

The word “banishment” is a synonym for “exile.”  The definition includes the forcible expulsion or exile of somebody or something.

In my new book, Restoring Life’s Missing Pieces: The Spiritual Power of Remembering and Reuniting with People, Places, Things and Self I talk about “losing” my voice at a young age and spending years trying to find ways to bring my natural ability to sing “home” again. When or where in your life have you felt a physical, emotional or spiritual part of you being forcibly or unintentionally banished by a comment or other action by someone else in “authority?”  How did that happen?  Where did it go? How has the absence of that part or quality affected your mind, body, and spirit?

– Caren Goldman

Bible Workbench: Epiphany 5: February 6, 2011

Text: Isaiah 58:1-9a (9b-12)

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.

It is sometimes hard to know what someone has in mind when they talk about fasting during Lent or on Fridays or before a blood test, as part of a diet or preparation for a sports event. But Isaiah is rather clear. Fasting for the prophet is not so much about giving up as taking on—labors of justice and liberation, of caring and compassion. The text makes it almost sound like a quid pro quo. It sounds like when one fasts as Isaiah prescribes that the result is light, healing and vindication. If you fast in this way you will discover that when you call for help the Lord will be there. Don’t be offended and just write it off! Test it from your experience. What has followed when you have fasted in this way? How has loosing bonds and breaking yokes, sharing bread and clothing the naked made a difference in your relationship with God, the world, and even with yourself? How is your sense of the Holy and of your Self altered when you fast as compassion rather than simply denial?

– Bill Dols

BibleWorkbench: Epiphany 2: January 16, 2011

Text: Isaiah 49:1-7

But I said, “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the LORD, and my reward with my God….”

I retired this past June from forty years of teaching community college students; in the moment feeling pretty good about the way I had spent my adult years.  It wasn’t long, however, before I found myself in a group of friends saying the modern equivalent of “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity…” Around the room, my accomplished, thoughtful friends one by one echoed the same thought. Continue reading