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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Today's Scripture Reading | Isaiah 42:1–9

Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his teaching.

Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it: I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am the Lord, that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to idols. See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them. (NRSV)

I grew up with a mother who loved to quote various sayings. Most of them still ring in my head. “A stitch in time saves nine.” “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” There were also famous lines from various presidents. She quoted those too. Teddy Roosevelt’s “Speak softly and carry a big stick” came to mind when I read today’s verses from Isaiah.

The poem or song from Isaiah sets forth a vision of The Servant, synonymous with someone who is chosen by God in order to reveal God. It is verse two that reminds me of the Teddy Roosevelt saying. God’s servant “will not cry out nor raise his voice; he will not shout in the streets.”

Amid all of the shouting that is taking place today—in our own environments, in national politics, in world affairs and between nations—I find myself wishing that someone would just come along and wield a big stick and shout at the top of his or her lungs “STOP IT!” All the shouting and fighting and suffering would stop.

But if truth be told, what I’ve noticed is that God’s servants and their deeds are often quiet in nature, and there is no shouting. One church member recently told me that her new year’s resolution was to “seek common ground” wherever she is. A quiet endeavor. Others spend hours of extra time helping a person in need, or listening to a widow’s grief, or delivering a meal to someone who is sick. God’s servants are revealing God without shouting in the streets. And paradoxically, those quiet activities of love and compassion wield a big impact—like a big stick, but without the bruises and with infinitely more power.

Dear God, help us to be your servants, wielding power in our love and compassion, in our deeds done quietly. Open our eyes to your revelation of love everywhere around us. And fill us with hope that one day your world will truly stop fighting because love won’t let the fights continue. Amen.

Written by Judith L. Watt, Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care

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