Isaiah 42:1-9 (NRSV)
Chapter 42Here 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. Verse 2He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; Verse 3a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. Verse 4He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his teaching.
Verse 5Thus 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: Verse 6I 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, Verse 7to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. Verse 8I am the Lord, that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to idols. Verse 9See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them.
Whenever I have the opportunity to gather with the college students I serve, I remind them — especially in the midst of hectic, anxious, and chaotic days — that in their very breath is the sustaining presence of God. We breathe deeply together and remember that the breath of God, the Spirit of God, is the moment-by-moment promise of God with us. And in that breath, by that Spirit, is our calling as the people of God.
As we leave the manger and the magi this week and get ready to remember Jesus' baptism, our scriptures ring with the voice of God, the Spirit of God, the calling of God. In Isaiah 42, God's Spirit-anointed servant is called to faithfully bring forth justice on the earth, not with sound or fury, but with implacable gentleness. With the certainty of one breath following another until God's liberating work is done.
Ever-faithful God, breathe your Spirit upon and within us. By its constancy sustain us for the sake of your calling, that we would trust the gift of your redemption and live by it for the sake of your world. Amen.