Repairers and Builders                                         Isaiah 58:6-12

Repairers and Builders                                         Isaiah 58:6-12

Repairers and Builders                                                     Isaiah 58:6-12

In 2012 I had the opportunity to travel with a group of High School students to New Orleans for the National Youth Gathering.  This was the second time the gathering had been held there because our ELCA Lutheran church wanted to show continued support for the city after Hurricane Katrina had devastated the area.  One of the encouraging places we were able to visit while we were there was a neighborhood that had been re-built after the destructive storm.  Some of the houses had been funded by actor Brad Pitt and featured some experimental units designed to hopefully withstand another storm, including one built above the ground on pylons and one built on a foundation that could float.

The prophet Isaiah says to the people of God in Scripture that, “when you give your food to the hungry and shelter the homeless then your light will shine in the dark…You will rebuild those houses left in ruins for years, you will be known as a builder and repairer of city walls and streets.”  It is a passage that connects well with the Gospel text we will hear on Sunday where Jesus tells us to “let our light shine.”   The instructions of Jesus are a metaphor that we could interpret in many ways, but Isaiah helps to make it clear what it means to “let our light shine” by relating it to concrete actions.  Our light shines when we help others get the food, clothing and shelter that they need.

I once was invited with some other faith leaders to tour a small housing development sponsored by Habitat for Humanity.  As we toured the modest, but well-made and relatively spacious homes, our guide explained to us the benefits a family receives from living in a decent home versus inadequate housing such as a one-room renovated garage.  Everything from better sleep, to better homework performance by kids, to less domestic disputes, research has shown there are multiple positive side effects that occur when a family has decent housing.  It all made sense after I heard it, but I had to confess I had not realized all the ways that poor housing could affect people’s lives. 

We are called to be builders and repairers.  How might we contribute to groups who are working in our communities to bring about better shelter for families?  How might we advocate for public policies that promote more affordable housing?  What are ways that we might work to make sure people have adequate places to live?  For when we do so, our light will shine and give God glory.  

-Pastor Erik Goehner