Week 26 - Isaiah 59:1-21

This week we will be looking at the theme of justice from Isaiah 59. The prophet seems to be in the midst of a sustained conflict with others as they struggle with the reconstruction project in Jerusalem. What they are fighting over is not just the regular headaches of any reconstruction (or construction) project but the very nature of what Judaism is going to look like in the future. 

I want to use Isaiah 59 as a lens to look at a much needed reconciliation project that we in Canada are being asked to enter into, namely the reconciliation with our indigenous people. They have been waiting for justice but for them, it must seem like it never comes. What does justice look like? What can we as individuals do? A response seems imperative at this time. 

Our Isaiah text can be divided into 4 parts: 

  1. Flaming Rebuke 59:1-8 
  2. Lament 59:9-11 
  3. Confession/Sinful Solidarity 59:12-15a 
  4. God Acts 59:15b-21. 

I will not be doing a verse by verse commentary but instead using the text as a parallel to some texts that I have found about residential schools. I would invite you to contemplatively read through the whole chapter and listen for the phrase or sentence that speaks to you. I would then ask you to write a prayer for reconciliation based on that phrase. We will be praying these prayers at the end of the presentation. 

I have been surprised at how much sadness came up for me as I began reading about the injustices that were done to the Indigenous people. I am just a novice in exploring the topic but I am hopeful that our time together could be one small step in the reconciliation process. 

Prayer: God, our brothers and sisters are waiting for a justice that never seems to come. Make it come, Lord, please, let it come. Uncover our prejudice and our bias. Take us out of our narrow, tribal focus that’s only concerned with us and our problems, and give us a bigger vision. Your vision. A vision of justice for all. Help us repent of the things that keep us in old ways of thinking. Create in us new hearts open to a more just future. Reconcile us and set us all free. Amen

— Cal

Questions for Reflection

Contemplatively read through the whole chapter of Isaiah 59 and listen for the phrase or sentence that speaks to you. I would then ask you to write a prayer for reconciliation based on that phrase.

Further Resources

  • 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act by Bob Joseph
    Learning about the cruel, enduring legacy of the Indian Act (created in 1876) is essential for Canada to move toward true reconciliation.

  • Indigenous Canada
    Free 12-lesson online course from the University of Alberta Faculty of Native Studies that explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada.

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