United Church of Christ

Grace Made Plain

I was enraged by their sinful greed;
I punished them, and hid my face in anger,
yet they kept on in their willful ways.
I have seen their ways, but I will heal them;
I will guide them and restore comfort to Israel’s mourners.
- Isaiah 57:17-18

Jesus’ admonition to take nothing with us for the journey aligns with Isaiah’s concern about our greed. The prophet was speaking for God, who was furious at how badly we do at “nothing.”

The late Eugene Peterson was especially known for The Message version of the Bible, a work that aimed to reflect the conversational style of ancient Greek in contemporary English. I think of Peterson’s work when I imagine God speaking plainly and directly, in contemporary language, through Isaiah:

“You messed up. Then you messed up again. Then you started to believe that you were a mess. Then you started to believe that other people were a mess. You placed one negative thought after another into the universe, and you really p----- me off. I created you. I made you. I wanted to have fun with you. Instead I have a lot of whining and crying and impotence and febrility and fragility. Seriously? I could walk out right now and just leave you cringing in your well-accessorized corners. But instead I am going to surprise you. I am going to stop being angry at you, the way you always want me to be angry. I am going to give you another chance. I am going to restore praise to your chapped lips. I am going to make your heart grateful again.”

Prayer
Help us drop our anger, just like you dropped yours. Then let us take the freedom of repentance along our way.

Donna SchaperAbout the Author
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her most recent book is I Heart Frances: Letters to the Pope from an Unlikely Admirer.

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