Living into the call of Isaiah 53
In the passage from Isaiah this week, we hear a devastating account of "the suffering servant" who bore our iniquities and transgressions so we might find favor with God again. Isaiah outlines the characteristics of this servant, describing his innocence and unjust punishment while comparing the transgressors to a group of wandering sheep. It is hard not to envision Christ when we read this passage: a blameless man, devoted to God, condemned to death because of the actions of others.
George Friedrich Handel set this passage to music as part of his oratorio, The Messiah. This particular piece in The Messiah is played before Christ is crucified. Handel brilliantly has the music set to a chaotic tempo until the last line: “And the Lord hath lain on Him the iniquity of us all.” At this point, the music slows down and there is a notable key change. The music acts as a sobering reminder of the ultimate sacrifice that Christ made for us.
Each of us, being made in God’s image, are called to serve God. For some people, parenting fulfills the role of serving. For others, engaging in outreach activities is the definition of serving. Even children are called to serve God. This week, I invite you to sit down with Isaiah and Handel. Listen to the music. Can you feel God’s presence? Where in the music do you feel God pulling on your heart to draw you closer? Can you picture serving as one of Christ’s disciples while the upbeat music is playing? If you’re like me, you find yourself staying with Jesus at the foot of the cross with Mary the Mother of Jesus, Mary the wife of Clopas, Mary Magdalen, and Salome. There are no wrong answers.
Be gentle with yourselves. We all have been serving in unprecedented ways for the past 19 months. Even when it feels like we are sheep who have gone astray, remember that Christ overcomes evil with love in the end. God brings us back. We will never serve alone.