1I was ready to be sought out by those who did not ask,
to be found by those who did not seek me
I said, “Here I am, here I am,”
to a nation that did not call on my name.
The prophet’s poetry is exquisite; the cry of God plaintive. A God eager to be found. A God of fabulous promises and great mercy. A God who brought the people back from exile in Babylon, home again to the land once promised to their ancestor Abraham. A God with outstretched arms, both here and on the cross. “Here I am! Here I am!” But we do not call on his name.
2I held out my hands all day long
to a rebellious people,
who walk in a way that is not good,
following their own devices;
3a people who provoke me
to my face continually,
sacrificing in gardens
and offering incense on bricks;
4who sit inside tombs,
and spend the night in secret places;
who eat swine’s flesh,
with broth of abominable things in their vessels;
5who say, “Keep to yourself,
do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.”
These are a smoke in my nostrils,
a fire that burns all day long.
Fabulous, brutal poetry, speaking the truth of a people who look everywhere for prosperity and goodness except to the one who has already given it, the one who holds out his hands and cries “Here I am!”
Our constant worship of the gods of security and profit, the sacrifices offered in the bodies of the poor for the clothing we covet at bargain prices, the sacrifices offered in the lives of our children who are sexualized before their time, the sacrifices we offer of family life to the gods of work and wealth. “Here I am! Here I am!” cries the one who is the bread of life, the living water, the light of all creation.
We think we are special, elite, ‘holy’, when our honoring of such gods is an acrid scent before heaven: a face full of diesel exhaust on an urban street, the inescapable smoke in the eyes that follows you round a campfire.
I will measure into their laps
full payment for their actions.
There will be consequences. We suffered some with the greed that led to our last economic near collapse – and many suffer still. We have laid many in the ground for our trust in violence to bring peace. Sexual diseases repay our worship of sex. But God is not done with us or the world.
8Thus says the Lord: As the wine is found in the cluster,
and they say, “Do not destroy it, for there is a blessing in it,”
so I will do for my servants’ sake,
and not destroy them all.
9I will bring forth descendants from Jacob,
and from Judah inheritors of my mountains;
my chosen shall inherit it,
and my servants shall settle there.
The God who gathers, the God who blesses, the God who redeems the earth, the God who loves without limit, who remains faithful despite all human faithlessness, will bring joy from sorrow, goodness from evil, life from death.
Here I am! Here I am! Waiting to be found.