As the snow fell last week, I saw an abundance of snowy day photos on my social media news feeds. I saw friends walking through the woods, the bare tree branches lined with white. The next morning, the sun shone and more photos were posted, with light sparkling across white-spread yards.
One of two captions accompanied these photos almost across the board. The first was “Narnia!” referencing C.S. Lewis’ series, and particularly the image of the snow filled forest that sets off the adventures. The second caption I saw was a quote from scripture: “though your sins are like scarlet they shall be as white as snow.”
These words from Isaiah are central to a passage I return to often, Isaiah 1:13-30. I read this passage every time I take communion, along with Jeremiah’s prophecy of the New Covenant in 31:31-34 and Paul’s instructions on the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 11: 23-26. I started reading these three passages with communion years ago, and they now serve to center me as I consider my own sin and Jesus’ atonement for it.
The Corinthians passage and the Jeremiah passage are logical ones for communion reading. One is a short telling of the Last Supper and the other talks about the New Covenant. The Isaiah passage is a little more outside the box, but I find it helps me remember the nature of true worship and the grace of God.
13 Bring no more vain offerings;
incense is an abomination to me.
New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations—
I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.
14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts
my soul hates;
they have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you spread out your hands,
I will hide my eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers,
I will not listen;
your hands are full of blood.
16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
17 learn to do good;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow’s cause.
18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
you shall eat the good of the land;
20 but if you refuse and rebel,
you shall be eaten by the sword;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”