We have heard the words of the prophet Isaiah recited in three different languages tonight. The message should come through to us loud and clear – end oppression, feed the hungry, relieve the burdens that weigh upon all who are in need, - then your light will shine! Stop going about the business of your lives without taking a moment to see, to hear, to notice that there are people calling upon you to listen, to help, to act - and if you do act, your light will shine!
If Isaiah were here today, he would declare that we are not alone. We are not alone, because we are all created in the same divine image. We are not alone, because we all face the same challenges every day of providing food, clothing, and shelter for ourselves and our families, and assuring that our children receive a quality education and that they are healthy. We are not alone in seeking the type of job that will give us security and comfort. And finally, we are not alone, because when we lose a home, a job, or the opportunity to receive the education we desire for our children or for ourselves, we must become the safety net for one another. We have the responsibility to hold each other up not only with words of assurance but also by organizing for programs and policies that recognize the value of every single individual.
Isaiah would tell us to be a community that allows no one to feel disenfranchised or alone. He would tell us that community is home, neighborhoods, helping organizations and agencies, religious congregations, and government. And he would tell us to get over our political differences if we expect to make our light shine in the darkness. If "we the people" has any meaning, it is that that we are a “we,” not us and them. The light that can shine for us comes from compromise and combined wisdom, not holding policies and people hostage due to polarization that leads to inaction and to greater suffering.
Isaiah would challenge us to be more caring, more sensitive. He would ask, "How can you try to improve someone else's life and situation if you don't feel for their pain and plight? How can people cheer at the suggestion that a person dying in an emergency room who has no health insurance should be allowed to die? How can a candidate for public office say to every person who is unemployed that such a situation is his or her fault? How can a school board or a state legislature cut the budgets of schools without strategizing on how to provide the same level of education for all students, even with less funds available? How can we hear the stories of so many people who face nearly insurmountable challenges in their lives without offering our help?"
Isaiah would finally proclaim that we still have a chance to make a change, to choose light, not darkness, to engender hope, not despair. This is our time. This is our opportunity. We are not alone. We can walk a common path that can improve the lives of so many people in need, if only we open our minds, our hands and our hearts.