The Hebrew Scripture appointed for today include these verses from Isaiah 49;
Listen, far-flung islands,
pay attention, faraway people:
God put me to work from the day I was born.
The moment I entered the world he named me.
He gave me speech that would cut and penetrate.
He kept his hand on me to protect me.
He made me his straight arrow
and hid me in his quiver.
He said to me, "You’re my dear servant,
Israel, through whom I’ll shine." – (The Message)
"God put me to work from the day I was born." Imagine that! From our creation we have been working for God’s purpose. Imagine! You and me and all those people we encounter at church, and in the community, all together, doing God’s work. One might argue about how well or not we are doing that work, but the point is, that in our very being is the nature of God’s good work and purpose. Seem overwhelming? It can be- but read the rest.
"God gave me speech that would cut and penetrate." Now you will argue here that we are not all orators. Of course we are not! I will counter – don’t be literalists. This is a promise that the gifts needed are given and imparted by the God of the covenant to the people. We are approaching the end of our Lenten journey and we now need to ask are we using that which God has given us to do the work that God is wishing to accomplish in us. The gifts are many and varied and God has given those gifts to us. Are we making use of those gifts today to show God’s love, God’s grace and God’s purpose.
I must confess that at times I am still discerning what gifts God has given me. From time to time I am surprised at what God is calling me to do. From time to time, I feel alone and a little scared that I will fail, or that I will not measure up – not so much to God but to those who seem to carrying a measuring rod at all times. Do you every feel like you need some help, a steady presence to help you on your journey? I do. And the good news is that "God kept a hand on me to protect me." How wonderful and how true! When I think about the most difficult parts of my journey it becomes obvious to me that God has been there as a steady hand in times of trouble and even in times of triumph. That hand has been extended to me in the form of family, friends and neighbours, parishioners and even strangers who have each in their own time protected me when I needed it, encouraged me when I needed it, held me back when I needed it, pushed me when I need it and caressed me and wiped a tear when I needed it. I suspect the same is true for most of us when we think about it. How has God’s hand been present for you? Who has extended that hand?
We are God’s dear servants and we are the one’s through whom God’s love will shine. As we near Good Friday and the great celebration of Easter let us discern this week what gifts God has offered us and how we are called to use them. Let us discern how God’s steady hand is present to us and in whom that hand is present. And let us discern how we can be the servant through whom the light of Christ might shine.