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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Today’s Reading | Isaiah 43:8–13

Bring forth the people who are blind, yet have eyes,
    who are deaf, yet have ears!
Let all the nations gather together,
    and let the peoples assemble.
Who among them declared this,
    and foretold to us the former things?
Let them bring their witnesses to justify them,
    and let them hear and say, “It is true.”
You are my witnesses, says the Lord,
    and my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know and believe me
    and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
    nor shall there be any after me.
I, I am the Lord,
    and besides me there is no savior.
I declared and saved and proclaimed,
    when there was no strange god among you;
    and you are my witnesses, says the Lord.
I am God, and also henceforth I am He;
    there is no one who can deliver from my hand;
 I work and who can hinder it? (NRSV)

Reflection
My friend Andy will sometimes facetiously say, “Me, me, me. It’s all about me.”

That’s what God reminds me of here.

The first person subjective pronoun “I” is used ten times in five verses; “me” and “my” make a good number of appearances too. Read the passage out loud. It’s striking.

These verses, along with the rest of Isaiah 40–55, were written while the Jews were in exile in Babylon, having lost their temple, land, homes, and identity. Perhaps God, through the prophet Isaiah, is reminding God’s chosen people that he is there in the midst of their suffering and pain. God isn’t the megalomaniac the pronouns suggest but rather more like a parent who comforts a crying child by getting the child to make eye contact, by repeating, “I am here. I am here.”

We, too, are often in exile. From serenity when we find ourselves in difficult circumstances. From wholeness when we are ill in body, mind, or spirit. From community when relationships are physically or emotionally breached. Certainly our world is in exile from the vision of peace and inclusion portrayed elsewhere in Isaiah’s prophecy. Even in the midst of the joy of the Easter season, we probably feel alienated from something or someone.

This passage can remind us that when we least feel like looking for God, when we are thrashing around in the uncomfortable constraints of our lives or even ourselves, God calls out to us. “I am here. I am God. I will save.”

Prayer
Ever-present God who envelops me in life-giving and grounding love, help me to focus on you, always. I have eyes but do not see; ears but do not hear. Get my attention, so that I can find you, no matter where I find myself. Amen.

Written by Susan Quaintance,
Program Coordinator, Center for Life and Learning

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