It is time to proclaim to my people and to give them a message from God.
“Don't speak quietly, but use megaphones and outdoor speakers!
Inform My people of their wrongs, for it is time for them to repent!
“Everyday I listen to them and they pray to me, as if they were a people who were holy and loving and that hasn't ignored the commands of God. Every day they praise me, declaring, "Praise you Jesus! We love you, our Father! There is no one else but You! Holy is the Lord!" How excited they are to be in my presence, to honor me with their words and give me their songs! They raise their hands in worship and close their eyes, emotions elated.
‘Why are our prayers not being answered?
We ask for healing, but we still live in our diseases.
We ask for sanity, but we still struggle with our minds.
We ask for purity, but we still fail you daily.
Haven't you noticed our praise?
Haven't you seen our commitment to you?
Haven't you paid attention to our faith?’
“But you don't understand what true worship is.
Worship is not just what you do in public,
Nor is it songs you sing in private.
The true worshiper brings me with them in their actions to others
The true lover of God treats the needy with equality and mercy.
“On Sunday you receive communion, you pray for your needs, and you take a day of rest, but you make demands of food service workers. You want rest and so you demand labor!
On Monday you enact your ritual of morning devotion, but you scream at your children to fulfill your petty demands!
On Wednesday you go to a Bible study, but you mock the homeless man on the street!
On Thursday you sing songs of praise with a recording, but you insist your employees work hard for you for minimum wage!
On Saturday you bow your head for your friends in need, but ignore the letters and calls for enacting charity!
“Is this the worship I desire?
For one to seek to be in my presence, but ignore the needy who are constantly in their presence?
You are lords, you are gods
You have god-like resources in your hands.
How do you think I will listen to you, if you will not listen to the cries of the needy?
“The worship I desire is that of humility, of surrender, of giving to the needy.
I hear you say, "But I give! I give so much that it pains me! I give so much money that I fear I shall myself become impoverished!"
Where did I ever say, "Give to the congregations of people that are already wealthy?"
In what Scripture do you read, "Surrender your wealth to the rich?"
Did my servant not say, "Tell the people to stop bringing their wealth, for we have enough"?
Did I not say, "Sell your possessions and give to the poor"?
Didn't you note that my people collected an offering so that the resources might be distributed to the needy?
I never asked for cathedrals!
I never demanded opulent sanctuaries!
I never commanded my servants to act like the unrighteous wealthy!
“Here is the worship I demand:
To work to stop injustice
To release people from their oppressions
To give respect to the lowly and outcast
To speak kindly to the needy
To give good food to the hungry, not leftovers
To welcome the homeless into your homes, not run down shelters
To give appropriate, warm clothing to the needy, not your cast offs from dinner parties
“Stop treating your brothers on the street like shit!
Stop disrespecting your sisters in shelters!
Stop distancing yourself from those who haven't showered!
Stop being those who create the outcast-- but rather eradicate the outcast from among yourselves!
“If you do this, if you give respect and resources and love to the needy among you,
Then I will raise you from your bed
Then I will deliver you from your anguish
Then I will eradicate the fear that destroys you”
Then the Lord will be known among you, and not hypocrisy
Then the righteousness of God will surround you
And protect you
And nurture you.
Then you will cry out to Him and He will answer
Then you will truly be in the presence of God, and not just a sham
But first you must remove from yourself those who point at the needy and call them unworthy.
You must surrender your shameless wealth from among you.
You must establish justice in your churches--
And more than that, humility.
The humility of giving to those who are not grateful
The humility of surrendering time when it seems not to help
The humility of listening to those who seem to be able to teach you nothing
The humility of honoring those who cannot honor back.
Then in the midst of this dark time, your light will shine to the heavens.
And the depression you are covered in will be transformed into joy.
God will guide you into the right way
And in the midst of terror, God will melt away your fear.
God will give strength to your bones and breath to your lungs.
And the ancient foundations
The building of Christ himself
Will be restored
And you will be called the Repairer
The rebuilder of the
The revival of the Spirit of God.
-Paraphrase of Isaiah 58