If you remove the yoke from among you,
the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,
if you offer your food to the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness
and your gloom be like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you continually,
and satisfy your needs in parched places,
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters never fail.
Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to live in.
If you refrain from trampling the sabbath,
from pursuing your own interests on my holy day;
if you call the sabbath a delight
and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
serving your own interests, or pursuing your own affairs;
then you shall take delight in the Lord,
and I will make you ride upon the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of your ancestor Jacob,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
John Wesley, the founder of the movement called Methodism, called people to a “holiness of heart and life.” I understand that to mean that not only were we called to a holiness that manifested itself in the personal devotions, such as prayer, fasting, giving to God and his church, and a refraining from vices, but also contained a sense that how we treated each other, especially the poor and the disenfranchised, was fundamental to the faith. It was not an either/or, it was a both/and. Live a faithful life in private and public affairs.
This passage from Isaiah is a perfect example of what that means. In this passage, the prophet is exhorting the people to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. The call is to be kind in our words, not to speak evil, but to be people of peace. It also calls us to offer food to the hungry, to help the afflicted. This “blend” of personal and social holiness then comes with promises of fullness, light and blessing.
How are you doing with these expressions of the faith? Are you more likely to express your faith in prayer, daily devotions and giving to the church? Or, are you more likely to help someone who is in need, someone who is impoverished, or sick? The promise is for the person who remembers both that we will indeed be people of light, riding upon the heights and finding our connection to the ancient word of God.