God Our Righteous Protector
Preparing for the Second Sunday after Christmas: Two Days before Sunday (Year A)
Psalter: Psalm 20
Old Testament: Isaiah 26:1-9
Epistle: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
God of glory, your splendor shines from a manger in Bethlehem, where the Light of the world is humbly born into the darkness of human night. Open our eyes to Christ's presence in the shadows of our world, so that we, like him, may become beacons of your justice, and defenders of all for whom there is no room. Amen.
On that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah:
We have a strong city;
he sets up walls and bulwarks as a safeguard.
Open the gates,
so that the righteous nation that maintains faithfulness
may enter in.
Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace,
in peace because they trust in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for in the Lord God[a]
you have an everlasting rock.
For he has brought low
the inhabitants of the height;
the lofty city he lays low.
He lays it low to the ground,
casts it to the dust.
The foot tramples it,
the feet of the poor,
the steps of the needy.
The way of the righteous is level;
straight is the path of the righteous that you clear.
In the path of your judgments,
O Lord, we have placed hope;
your name and your renown
are the soul’s desire.
My soul yearns for you in the night;
my spirit within me earnestly seeks you.
For when your judgments are in the earth,
the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness (Isaiah 26:1-9).
Isaiah chapter 26 begins with a song of praise to God, who is described as a strong and reliable city that provides protection and security for those who trust in Him. Jerusalem with its walls are probably in mind. The Holy City stands as an affirmation of the protection of Israel’s God. The singer declares trust in God and his providential care.
The theme of righteousness figures prominently in these verses. The song calls on others to let the righteous enter—a metaphor of Jerusalem as a place of holiness—the open gates of the strong city—a metaphor for God’s protection. Such righteousness is closely connected to justice, that all things will be made right for everyone including the poor and the marginalized. The singer also speaks of the peaceful path that is level, that is the path that everyone regardless of status can walk on, thanks to God’s guidance. The poet’s soul longs for God and seeks him earnestly, and expresses the belief that when God’s judgments are carried out, the people of the world will learn righteousness. It is a reminder to Israel that the ways of their God are not to left within the walls of Jerusalem, but taken out to the nations.
PRAYER: Light of life, you came in flesh, born into human pain and joy, and gave us power to be your children. Grant us faith, O Christ, to see your presence among us, so that all of creation may sing new songs of gladness and walk in the way of peace. Amen.
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