Tuesday of Pentecost 11 – Isaiah 66:18-23

18 “For I know their works and their thoughts, and the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and shall see my glory, 19 and I will set a sign among them. And from them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands far away, that have not heard my fame or seen my glory. And they shall declare my glory among the nations. 20 And they shall bring all your brothers from all the nations as an offering to the Lord, on horses and in chariots and in litters and on mules and on dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the Lord, just as the Israelites bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord. 21 And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the Lord.

22 “For as the new heavens and the new earth
    that I make
shall remain before me, says the Lord,
    so shall your offspring and your name remain.
23 From new moon to new moon,
    and from Sabbath to Sabbath,
all flesh shall come to worship before me,
declares the Lord.

I had the privilege of celebrating Easter in 2008 in southern India. I was there to lead pastoral conferences for the IELC, the LCMS’s partner Synod in the subcontinent. I had just flown in on a 22-hour flight that deposited me in Chennai late in the evening of Good Friday. Even with a whole day to catch up, Sunday still found me bit of a jet-lag wreck. My host roused me from bed quite early. We were going to church three times that day. There were a dozen baptisms at the main service, but even more remarkable was the service in the small community on the outskirts of Chennai.

We came to a rather crudely constructed hut surrounded by a sea of homes. It really did look like something out of one of the missionary stories I remember as a child. Poles were lashed together and covered in some sort of thatching. Unlike the missionary stories, there was a loudspeaker sitting on a folding chair outside the front door. It was blasting music at an ear-shattering volume. Shortly after we arrived, it was time for the service to begin. The church was filled with brilliantly clad people, singing wonderful songs, accompanied by strange instruments which were not pipe organs. I knew none of the words except periodically I would catch “Alleluia!” or “Amen.”

A woman came forward that day to be baptized. She was supposed to have been in the larger group at the main service, but her husband had objected. They had argued and finally she had come to this smaller service which was closer to her home. By closer, I mean it was only a few miles from her home. She walked. I was the stranger in that sea of very brown faces, all speaking a language which remains incomprehensible to me.

Isaiah saw a day when all flesh would come and worship the LORD. I am glad that one day in March of 2008 I got to see a little bit of this vision play out as this son of Germanic barbarians was given to worship among the faithful of India.

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