Orthodox Mission – Hyde Park, Chicago

WEDNESDAY 5TH of Lent Isaiah 41: 4-14

Thus says the Lord: I am first and for what is to come I am. The nations saw and were afraid, the ends of the earth drew near and came together, each one judging to help his neighbour and his brother, and he will say, “The craftsman has become strong and the bronze smith striking with the hammer and forging”. Then he will say, “It is a good join and they have fastened them with nails, they will fix them and they will not be moved”. You are my servant, I have chosen you and I have not abandoned you. Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not go astray, for I am your God who gives you strength and I have helped you and made you safe with my righteous right hand. See, all those who oppose you will be put to shame and turned back, for they will be as though they did not exist and all your opponents will perish. You will look for them and not find those who rage like drunkards against you, for those who make war on you will be as though they did not exist and they will not be. Because I am your God who gives might to your right hand and who says to you: Do not be afraid Jacob, Israel few in number. I have helped you, Israel, I the God who rescues you.

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God is there at the beginning. He is before all time, he gives being to all that is. All the nations gather around helping each to form a metal forged thing, to put together arms and armor against the hopes of the poor and weak and oppressed. The powers of war have gathered to press their firm resolve to hammer and nail their power in place. Here God does not abandon us: the very same hammer and nail which attempts to hold God’s people, even all of humanity in place, is the nail that pierces the powerful hand of the Lord that blesses us, and blesses us most powerfully by “trampling down death by death.” This is the right hand that makes us safe, the same one with the hole made by the nails. What is the existence of any power when death can no longer cause fear, when it is no longer a place of despair? God reveals that this lust for power and desire to dominate is all drunkenness. The true sobriety and reason is to find the God that gives life, not the masters of death. “The God who rescues you,” despite your weakness, O Israel (the people who see God), is the one whose blessing hand takes away fear from the jaws of death and Hell: “O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?” …thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1Corinthians 15:55-58) Let us labor in prayer and hope so that we can see Christ showing to us his power and glory from his radiant tomb.