"Ah you who are wise in your own eyes, and shrewd in your own sight! You who are heroes in drinking wine and in mixing drinks, who acquit the guilty for a bribe and deprive the innocent of their rights." - Isaiah 5: 23
I can imagine several reactions to this Advent reading. One goes like this:
"OMG, Isaiah. You sure know how to ruin a good holiday party. Isn't this the time to be of good cheer and raise a glass in gratitude for our blessings? And who isn't wise in their own sight? That's called having self-esteem, Isaiah, and mine's eroding with every word you say. And how dare you insinuate that I partake, indeed that I benefit from, pardoning criminals and denying rights. You don't know anything about me! If I hear one more person whining about their rights, I'm going to puke. Hollywood and the media are killing this country and all you can do is get judgmental about a little wine tasting?!"
"So Isaiah, is it possible I have flattered myself into believing I am a blessed, independent, self-made person, but that is proved hollow by the fact that I do so very little for the vulnerable and oppressed beginning with simply listening to their stories? Am I drunk with my own ego? Am I among the guilty ones I am so willing to acquit?"
Here's still another:
"Thanks, Isaiah. I needed that. May God forgive me. Come Lord Jesus."
How does Isaiah strike you today? The first, second, third, all three or something else entirely?
Holy God, make me ever vigilant of my need for repentance, and allow me to catch sight of Your glory in our new born king. Amen.
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.