A reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah 1:16; “Wash yourselves. Make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; rescue the oppressed; defend, the orphan, plead for the widow. Come now. Let us argue it out, says the Lord, though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be like snow.”
As the book of the prophet Isaiah opens, a vision is recounted. It is an indictment … it’s infidelity. The people of Israel are called to make some fundamental and profound changes.
Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Paul recalls for the people of this letter this indictment of “promise.”
What is this faith? The prophet Isaiah calls the people of God to believe differently. To have the faith of serving those in need.
I recently watched a video of an interview of a German soldier who manned a machine gun during the invasion of Europe. He remembers slaughtering the American soldiers as they left their boats on the beach. It was a “killing field.” He reported firing 10,000 rounds. He was amazed.
“Why do they just keep coming?”
I suspect that if that question could have been asked and answered many lives would have been saved. That even helps us to define the word “invasion.”
I hear on our news that many believe we are being invaded by people from the countries of South America. Are we really being invaded? With the rampant and wild shooting of people of color what makes us think we know who the targets are?
I would suggest that the common denominator is FEAR! Germans hated the Jews and much of the rest of the world because they feared all those that were different. Their answer to that fear was military force.
Imagine how we in Malheur County would live our collective lives if we saw ethnic, racial and cultural differences as a cause to shoot each other. We live with Hispanic, Asian, Anglo and Basque people. We live with those who are Catholic, Latter-Day Saints, Episcopalian, Lutheran, Buddhist and many more. Are such differences to be counted as an invasion to be thrown back into the sea?
My neighbors are Hispanic American … I am Anglo American. Am I an invader? I am of German extraction. (Just thought I should own up to that!)
The book of the prophet Isaiah instructs the people of God how to overcome the fear that turns us against one another. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews is not just to the Hebrews. It instructs us also. It is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. By faith we hear the words of God.
What do you hope for? What are you convinced of? Those men who scrambled over the beaches of Normandy did so out of faith whether they knew it or not. They believed they would survive. They believed in each other. They believed in the cause of freedom for which they were fighting. Maybe each had an idea of who or what God is, but many probably did not. But they had faith nonetheless.
As we seek answers to difficult questions let us do as requested in the book of Isaiah, “Come now let us argue it out, says the Lord.”
Father Jim Mosier is the retired rector at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Ontario. He can be reached in care of The Argus Observer, 1160 S.W. Fourth St., Ontario, OR 97914. The Argus Observer weekly faith column features a rotation of writers from many different faiths and perspectives.