Life is not for the faint of heart. The stresses, insults, and injuries of the world splay our spirits and batter our flesh. We quickly pray the prayer that Jesus rejected: “Please save me from this hour!” We fall to the couch and despair with the prophet: “Our labors and energies have been spent in vain” (AP).
In moments of caffeination and pride, we might leap into life boasting that we can do all things, be all things, and change all things just as God has called us to do; but quickly we tire once again. We curl ourselves into God’s refuge and ask to be replenished with youthful audacity, too wizened by the world’s cynicism to find God’s glory in our weakness.
The servant leader of Isaiah 49:1-7 recalls such a moment of faintness, when the work of restoring the people to their freedom and their faith seemed too great a task. Being called by God to the work, being equipped by God for the work seemed insufficient. God needed to also be the strength for the work.
Barely does this confession cross the servant leader’s lips when God responds: “Restoring the people to their freedom and their faith is too small a task. I envision more than the nurture of one community; I envision the healing of the world! I will stretch you out like light, far beyond your limits. I will be reflected throughout the nations, and my faithfulness will shame their strength” (AP).
In my own faintness of heart, God’s increased charge to the servant leader makes me weary just to read it. Who is strong enough to reach all nations? Who is energetic enough to go to the ends of the earth? Who is wise enough to impact global change?
Then I notice: God doesn’t call the servant leader to be strong or industrious or wise. God calls the servant leader to be light.
The world stretches us thin, O God, but you stretch us out like light that refracts and reflects without dimming. Keep our faith light, make us children of light, and give us as light to your glory. Amen.
This week’s readings take us through the depths but then into the eternal light. We walk each step with Jesus, who suffers betrayal, abandonment, and death. But it is more than that. In his suffering, Jesus also enters into the brokenness of our human condition and feels our pain, such that on the Cross he even feels abandonment by God. He walks through the valley of the shadow of death because of God’s amazing, reckless love for us. This is the power of Holy Week. But that is not the end of the story. Jesus’ steps do not end at the Cross, for he walks out of the tomb! Now we can follow in his steps and participate in his new life. He is risen indeed!
Read Isaiah 42:1-9. How is God calling you to be a light? How does God empower you to follow God’s call to you?
Read Psalm 70. What is prompting you to reach out for God’s help today? In what ways do you ask for that help?
Read John 13:1-17, 31b-35. What acts of service does Jesus’ example in this reading move you to perform? Choose one act you will do today in remembrance of Jesus’ humility.
Read John 20:1-18. When have you, in the light of God’s love, let go of the way you thought your life would be in order to live a different reality that God intended for you?
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