Given By Rev. Madison Shockley December 10, 2017 at Pilgrim UCC in Carlsbad CA pilgrimucc.org

Hard times have come to everyone at some point in their lives. Everyone can relate. In today’s reading, Isaiah offers the Israelites¬† comfort during their suffering . They have paid double for their sins. God had been upset that Israel was doing more evil than good. They were to seek justice, aid the oppressed, defend the orphan, and help the widow. This is the will of God. This is not some liberal or political teachings. Today, we are acting like the prophets and speaking truth to power. Some want churches to only be pastoral. Help those in need but not challenge the reason why they need help in the first place. We need to be both prophetic and pastoral. Our weapons are our voice and the pen. Despite our failings, God offers forgiveness. All that is needed is repentance. God desires only love, forgiveness, and grace. In our reading, Israel did not listen and was punished. God then offered reconciliation. Today, we see human frailty at work in governments, businesses, and the entertainment industry. The news is filled with stories of the abuse of power. Men are being held accountable for the harassment and assault of women. We are now wrestling with what is appropriate punishment. At one time or another, all of us have fallen short of God’s glory. Punishment without a way to reconcile is cruel. Isaiah offers a message of hope and grace to both Israel and to us. It is never too late for change.