On first reading Isaiah’s Reading 1, one immediately notes the parallel to many of the teachings of Christ. The messages of meeting the needs of those 1)who are oppressed, 2)who suffer because of lies against them and hostile language, 3)who are literally hungry, and, 4)who are afflicted in many ways were as present in the ancient times of Isaiah and in the times of Jesus as they are in the current month of February 2012. We are the ones called to meet these needs in a variety of ways throughout the globe, in the particular circumstance in which each of us lives and have the ability to intervene.
One of my passions is protection of vulnerable populations by influencing policy. As a public health nurse, I have been consistently active in doing that for decades. I have just finished serving on a county ad hoc task force to evaluate county health services for the most poor and vulnerable individuals in this county. I summarize my interventions as giving verbal voice and a written report where my analysis, input, and recommendations are clear—do not harm; do not abandon care for the most vulnerable. A second venue of current activity is my leadership in one aspect of a professional nursing association. I chair a state commission that is the association’s legislative and policy lobby arm. Once again, I use my verbal voice, my written testimony, and my leadership position to influence and lobby one state’s legislative agenda to promote health care for the state’s population and to prevent harm to vulnerable populations. Both as an individual and a public health nurse, I am aware of those populations in this county, state and country who meet the above four criteria of being in need. Beyond one’s national boundaries, however, I also recognize our responsibilities for others globally. For example, within the past week, those of us in the United States (U.S.) have read of the many suicides at a factory in China. Many other individuals are threatening suicide at this same factory because of extremely negative harsh working conditions. Individuals in this country who own I-Phones are being asked the ethical question—is the low price you pay for your particular cell phone worth the working and dying conditions of hundreds of individuals in China? This latter example is only one of many aspects of globalization and how each of us has to reflect on how each of our lives contributes to the affliction of others.
When I read “If you hold back your foot on the Sabbath from following your own pursuits on my holy day…,” I immediately think of a colleague in Law School from 1997-2000. Like me, she was an older adult seeking another degree. She was committed in her Protestant religion and faithfully believed in and held to this teaching of keeping holy the Sabbath. And, keeping the day holy meant she would not be studying law on Sundays. She would plan and prioritize her week to include this. In my adult years, I have found her singular in such a commitment. I have lived in the U.S. for my life and I have noted the cultural erosion of this Sabbath keeping.
I wish you reflection on how you meet the call of Isaiah for those who have needs; I wish you reflection on keeping holy the Sabbath.