For I YHWH love justice,
I hate robbery and wrongdoing …
Our pastor this morning pointed out that in the text of Isaiah 61:1-4, or however many verses people often read in church around this time of year, it’s easy to miss the judgment in those words “proclaim the year of YHWH’s favor.”
But who, after all, does God favor?
Not the same people “the world” favors: the big, the strong, the rich, the self-sufficient, the respectable, the socially-acceptable, the comfortable …
It’s easy to miss the judgment in the words, she reminded us, because we tend to spiritualize all these Biblical messages, so we blunt their edge [and don’t have to take them to heart too much].
But seriously, when we rob the poor to give to the rich, as international economics mostly does … when people crowd the doors of Black Friday sales and fight each other to get their hands on merchandise made by people far away who are being treated as little more than slaves … when we are content to let kids basically down the street from us go to bed hungry, or die from preventable illnesses because we begrudge them adequate medical care … when the gap between the rich and powerful and the poor and vulnerable is getting bigger and bigger and bigger … God hates that.
[As in, put that on a picket sign, eh?]
This may not be comfortable news for us.
It ought to make us squirm in our pews, actually.
God loves everyone, she said, but God does not favor everyone. That is, does not show partiality towards, treat with special care, weigh in on the side of …
It may not be comfortable news for us, because we might not be the ones God favors; we might already be getting plenty of favor, from the world around us [in which we are holding our own, in which the rules are mostly working … in our favor].
[Hint: If we’re shocked and outraged when someone treats us like we’re stupid or untrustworthy or don’t matter to them, if we can’t believe someone just took that tone with us, because “who do they think they are?!!,” then honestly, we are probably used to being favored by the world.]
It may not be comfortable news for us, because it holds us accountable: are we favoring the people God favors? Because we ought to be. Because that’s what we Christians are being called to do.