Today we come to the 13th day of our Lenten journey, God bless you as you travel the path to the Cross and to our Lord’s resurrection. Our readings have all been from the prophesy of Isaiah, and today I’ll comment on the chapters we’re read so far, chapters 4 - 7. The beginning of the prophesy of Isaiah, in fact, the first 39 chapters tell the people that they have forsaken God, and because they have forsaken God there will be consequences. There were those in Israel that believed that God would protect them from everything and anything because of the covenant that He had made with Moses on Sinai, but Isaiah reminds them that a covenant has two principals, two players. If you sign a contract with someone and do not keep your part of the agreement, the other person certainly has the right to withdraw from the contract, and perhaps sue you. There are contacts, and there are breaches of contracts.
We read these scriptures during Lent to remind ourselves that we have indeed breached the contract that we made, or was made for us, at our baptism. Listen to the petitions at the beginning of the baptism service:
That he (she) that is about to be baptized herein may become worthy of the incorruptible Kingdom; let us pray to the Lord.
That he (she) that now comes to holy Illumination, and for his (her) salvation; let us pray to the Lord.
That he (she) may prove to be a child of Light, and an inheritor of eternal blessings; let us pray to the Lord.
That he (she) may grow in, and become a partaker of the Death and Resurrection of Christ our God; let us pray to the Lord.
That he (she) may preserve the garment of Baptism, and the earnest of the Spirit undefiled and blameless in the terrible Day of Christ our God; let us pray to the Lord.
Do you hear those words? The priest prayed that we might be worthy of the heavenly kingdom, not that the kingdom belonged to us no matter how we live our lives. The priest prayed that we would prove to be children of the light, not that the simple act of baptism would ensure our salvation. The priest prayed that we would grow in the death and resurrection of Christ, that we would be partakers of His victory over sin and death, not that all was accomplished that one day of our baptism, and that nothing more needed to be done. The priest prayed that we would preserve the garment of baptism undefiled and blameless until the judgement, not that the wearing of the garment for the duration of the sacrament, and perhaps a couple more times for photos, would keep us from the judgment. So what do we accomplish by baptizing our children, or submitting to baptism ourselves? We gain access to the covenant, the doors of the Church, our salvation, open to us. When we do not walk through those doors, the covenant becomes for us like the covenant became for those who heard Isaiah’s prophesies for the first time.
This is why we hear these readings during Lent. We are like all people who have ever lived, we have been given salvation and have squandered this gift by our sin. The first step toward forgiveness is repentance, and this is exactly what the first part of Isaiah is calling us to.