Isaiah 61:10-62:5 (Vespers, 2nd reading)
10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth brings forth its bud, As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth, So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.
1 For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, And for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, Until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, And her salvation as a lamp that burns.
2 The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, And all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name, Which the mouth of the Lord will name.
3 You shall also be a crown of glory In the hand of the Lord, And a royal diadem In the hand of your God.
4 You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, Nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; But you shall be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; For the Lord delights in you, And your land shall be married.
5 For as a young man marries a virgin, So shall your sons marry you; And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So shall your God rejoice over you.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Christ is in our midst! He is and shall be!

In our second Old Testament reading tonight, we hear this beautiful first verse [read]. This is one of the prayers that a priest prays as he’s vesting himself to serve the Holy Liturgy. Specifically, it is the prayer said when putting on the sticharion – the white robe that goes underneath all of the other vestments. This garment represents the baptismal robe – so that is why in this prayer we say that God clothes us with the garment of salvation, covering me with righteousness and adorning me as a bride with jewels. As the priest presents Christ to the people in the Holy Liturgy, he also reminds them of their own lives in Christ, and of their own “working out your salvation in fear and trembling before the Lord.” The first step in our Christian life is our Holy Baptism – this is when our sins are washed away and we are clothed in Christ. And as Fr. Hopko so beautifully says, the remainder of our life in Christ is living out this baptismal garment; Confession is where we make an account for how we’ve worn that precious garment; our lives are the constant working toward living wholly in Christ at all times and in all places. We can take from the reading from Isaiah what some of those fruits of life in Christ might look like: the buds of righteousness, the brilliant radiance of salvation, the crown of the glory of the Lord, being the bride of God, rejoiced over by our God. The life that we’re called to live in Christ is not characterized in the Scriptures as a dark and muddled life of struggle and failure and suffering, but rather a bright and joyful life, lived in the loving presence of our God, wedded to Him and seeking to please Him all the days of our life. Our ascetic struggles are certainly necessary for the conforming of our lives to Christ, but it’s in this bright and radiant joy that we live out those struggles. As Isaiah reminds us, always rejoicing in our God, clothed with the garments of salvation, vested with the vesture of righteousness.

May our Christ grant us the robe of salvation, and may we always live in the joy and the glory of the presence of our God.
Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

Author Matthew Jackson