Chapel Hill Family,
This past Sunday, we began our worship series entitled “The Blessed Life.” As we explored “The Beatitudes” in Matthew 5:1-12 together, we explored the connections between Jesus’ teaching and Isaiah. These connections exist because when God arrived in the flesh, God did so in the midst of the Jewish prophetic tradition.
The Old Testament prophets all addressed serious issues among the people called to be a light to the world. Their history was one of call, obedience, disobedience, judgment, and restoration, a cycle that continued as God remained committed to the covenant made with the people even when they turned away. They worshipped idols and false gods in lives shaped by unfaithfulness to the God who had created them, delivered from slavery in Egypt, and called them. The result of this unfaithfulness was the Jewish people being shaped by the values of the nations around them rather than shaped by the love and mercy of God.
These false values led to their formation as a people whose lives were full of injustice. The poor, the immigrant, the orphan, the widow, and other vulnerable people were neglected, abused, and exploited rather than embraced and loved the way God loves all people. This is the situation addressed by the major and minor prophets, especially Isaiah, the collection of writings from the prophets which is cited directly or alluded to in Matthew and the other gospels more than the other prophets.
I mentioned this connection in worship a few weeks ago and suggested we take time this year, as we read through Matthew in this year’s lectionary, to also read through Isaiah. The more we do so, the clearer the connections between Isaiah, the gospel writers, and the teachings of Jesus will become. And the clearer our call as disciples will be. As we continue this series entitled “The Blessed Life” I invite you to join me in this reading.
Grace and Peace,
Rev. J.D. Allen