Isaiah 40:21-31 (NRSV)
Verse 21Have you not known? Have you not heard? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? Verse 22It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in; Verse 23who brings princes to naught, and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing. Verse 24Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown, scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth, when he blows upon them, and they wither, and the tempest carries them off like stubble. Verse 25To whom then will you compare me, or who is my equal? says the Holy One. Verse 26Lift up your eyes on high and see: Who created these? He who brings out their host and numbers them, calling them all by name; because he is great in strength, mighty in power, not one is missing.
Verse 27Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, "My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God"? Verse 28Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. Verse 29He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Verse 30Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; Verse 31but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
The musical mine is deep for these prophetic words. Randall Thompson’s “Peaceable Kingdom” begins with the powerful invective of verse 21, “Have you not known? Have you not heard?” as if to say, “Don’t you get it? Don’t you remember? Listen up!” The next movement gently begins “Ye shall have a song.” Michael Joncas contemporizes words of comfort in “On Eagle’s Wings,” “And I will bear you up on eagle’s wings!” soothing our troubles. Remember the classic camp song, “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up on wings as eagles! They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Help us, Lord, help us Lord, in your ways.” What is my situation? What is my trial? What is my song! As these verses were written for a people in Babylonian exile, so are we graced with songs in our exiles, our separateness from self, from family, from friends, from work, from justice, from peace.
Jesus, your grace voices us with your song of life, hope and comfort. We sing! Amen.