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June 7 | Isaiah 56:1-8


 

DAILY READING

 

REFLECTION


Abiding "Together"

by Katie Borden


Y’all, I have the weirdest-looking tree on my property. It truly looks like half of the tree is a cherry tree, and half of it is some sort of willow. For a time, I was flummoxed by this tree. But then I came to the realization that this tree has likely been grafted together, and since then I have grown quite fond of this tree (even if it is a royal pain to clean up after). It is the most bizarre and lovely picture of God’s mercy and invitation to us that I think we also encounter in today’s Bible passage.

Isaiah 56 highlights the goodness and inclusiveness of God as the writer portrays the dignity and belonging of all people—including the eunuchs and foreigners, who at the time were seen as some of the most ostracized or marginalized people groups. God binds these people to him (including we who were once outsiders!), and in being grafted to him and to his people, we are all brought up in the way of love.

One of the (many) things I love about God is how he has brilliantly woven the Scriptures together in such a way that, when read in light of itself, God’s word amplifies thematic material that runs through both testaments. The comparison of the cultivation of his people to a garden and its thriving branches is one of them.


In addition to Isaiah 56, I’ve been spending time in John 15 as our mission team prepares to work and minister in the Dominican Republic (we leave today; please pray for us!). This is the passage where Jesus tells his followers to abide in him so that we bear fruit. Being grafted in to the people of God is not just a way of belonging; it is a life-giving measure that God has given us. Apart from him, we do not grow and thrive. But as we are connected to him, we bear fruit—namely, the fruit of love. Following the commands to be conduits of his love, justice, and righteousness are ways that we glorify God and bear his creative, redeeming, and life-giving word to the world.

So as we celebrate together as the family of God at UALC what he has done through our gifts, let’s prayerfully look forward to how he might continue to use us to bring “all nations” to him—that by our love, God might bring together people of every tribe and tongue, of every ability level and from every walk of life, with every kind of gift to offer each other in this beautifully-grafted community of grace.


PRAYER PRACTICE

In the spirit of remaining connected to Jesus, the True Vine, consider spending time in a practice of lectio divina--prayerfully reading the passage four times. The first time, pray for God to speak to you through Isaiah 56:1-8, then allow a word or phrase to strike you. The second time, meditate on that word/phrase as you read. The third time you read, pray and ask God what he is saying to you in that passage. The fourth time, contemplate what you have read and experienced, and ask God to seal the impact of your time together in your heart by his Spirit. Savor this time abiding in the presence of our good God.














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