New Ark United Church of Christ, Newark, DE
December 3, 2017
Isaiah had me at “If only you would tear open the heavens and come down”. O God, if only you would tear open the heavens and come down into this hot mess of a tax bill. Isaiah had something to say about it in chapter 10: “Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people.” If only you would tear open the heavens and come down into workplaces and school yards and town halls and faith communities and all the marginal places, that every person no matter their gender or sexuality or religion or skin color or age or ability would be treated with respect and dignity. If only you would tear open the heavens and come down into one of the richest nations in the world so that 41 million of its people would be lifted out of poverty and the rich sent away empty. If only you would tear open our hearts and come down and knock some sense and compassion into not just our elected leaders but all of us who put them there.
How would you finish it? If only you would tear open the heavens and come down… (Put your answer in the comments.)
Like many peoples of the Iron Age, if things were going badly, it was believed to be punishment from the heavens for humanity’s wicked behavior. While we think we are so far from such thinking, we still believe in a “you get what you deserve, you made your bed—now lie in it” kind of karma-ordered universe. And even though our rational minds tell us that a supernatural, interventionist divine being makes no logical sense, those are exactly the kind of prayers we make when life is hitting the deep skids. “If only you would tear open the heavens and come down!” If only.
Hope is what led to the civil rights movement, to marriage equality, to the end of apartheid, and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Hope was and is the main course at this Table: hope that death and violence and injustice do not have the last word. What are we waiting for? The hope that one day we will rise yet again. Amen.
*verse 6: "We have all become like the unclean;
We have all become like the unclean;