Isaiah 1:4-23 – an interpretation

Woe to this sinful nation,
a people whose guilt is great,
a brood of evildoers,
children given to corruption!
They have forsaken true power,
they have despised the Holy One of all lands,
and turned their backs on mystery.

Why do you seek out new beatings?
Why do you continue to rebel against justice?
Your whole head is gasping for air,
your whole heart can’t breathe.
From the sole of your foot to the top of your head,
there is no health in it,
but bruises and sores
and bullet wounds;
they have not been cleansed or bandaged
or blessed with oil.

Your country is desolate,
Your cities burned with fire;
foreigners till your fields.
The promised land is bereft
like a carnival booth once the circus has left town.
But for a few stragglers the Lord almighty has left us
who still speak up and show up for justice,
we would look more barren than Hiroshima ever did.

Hear the words of the Lord,
your rulers of Sodom;
Listen to the instructions of our God,
you people of Gomorrah!
What to me is the multitude of your offerings?
Says the Lord.
I have had enough of Christmas pageants
and caroling in the square,
I do not delight
in a fresh-killed turkey on the table,
I have no pleasure
in extended mall hours and holiday specials.
I hate, I despise your religious festivals,
the Rockefeller treelighting is a stench to me.
Even though you give me prayers and praise alike,
I will not accept them.

When you come before me,
who has asked this of you,
the trampling of my courts?
Who has asked of you
the deaths of my children,
Trayvon and Tamir, Michael and Eric?
Who has asked of you
the deaths of my children in Columbine,
the deaths of my children in Newtown?
Lighting advent candles is futile,
incense is an abomination to me.
Christmas Eve, Sundays and congregational gatherings –
I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.
Your special feasts and your micro-managed celebrations
my soul hates.
You have become a burden to me,
I am weary of bearing them.
When you spread your hands out in prayer,
I hide my eyes from you;
Even when you offer many prayers,
I am not listening.
Your hands are full of blood!

Wash and make yourselves clean.
Remove the evil of your doings
from before my eyes;
Cease to do evil,
learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Rescue the oppressed,
Take up the cause of the fatherless,
Defend the widow.

Come now, let us argue it out,
says the Lord:
You are not a white people
but crimson,
scarlet with blood,
But the rivers of my justice
can wash even this.
If you are willing, and do what is good,
You shall enjoy the good of the land,
But if you refuse,
You shall die in gunfire,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

How the faithful city
has become a prostitute!
She that was full of justice;
righteousness lived there –
but now murderers!
The rich drive in from the suburbs to ravage you,
then leave nothing but woe.
Your silver has become trash,
your wine is no good either.
Your princes are rebels
and the companions of thieves.
Everyone loves a bribe
and runs after gifts.
They do not defend the orphan,
and the widow’s cause does not come before them.

The word of the Lord.

About bobjanisdillon

Unitarian Universalist minister, poet, husband, father, three-chord guitar wonder.
This entry was posted in Other poetry, Prayers & Meditations and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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