Read Isaiah 52:12 – 53:12

For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight;
      for the LORD will go before you,
      and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.
See, my servant shall prosper;
      he shall be exalted and lifted up,
      and shall be very high.
Just as there were many who were astonished at him
   –so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance,
     and his form beyond that of mortals–
so he shall startle many nations;
kings shall shut their mouths because of him;
     for that which had not been told them they shall see,
     and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate.
Who has believed what we have heard?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
      For he grew up before him like a young plant,
      and like a root out of dry ground;
      he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
      nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
      He was despised and rejected by others;
      a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
      and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised,
      and we held him of no account.
Surely he has borne our infirmities
     and carried our diseases;
yet we accounted him stricken,
     struck down by God,
     and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
     crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment
     that made us whole,
     and by his bruises we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;  
      we have all turned to our own way,
      and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
     yet he did not open his mouth;
     like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
     and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
     so he did not open his mouth.
By a perversion of justice he was taken away.
Who could have imagined his future?
For he was cut off from the land of the living,
     stricken for the transgression of my people.
They made his grave with the wicked and his tomb with the rich,
     although he had done no violence,
     and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him with pain.
When you make his life an offering for sin,
    he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days;
through him the will of the LORD shall prosper.
Out of his anguish he shall see light;
     he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.
The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous,
     and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,
     and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
      because he poured out himself to death,
      and was numbered with the transgressors;
      yet he bore the sin of many,
      and made intercession for the transgressors.

from Rev. David Chafin, Deputy Regional Minister

            It may be difficult to find any redeeming virtue in times of unjust or unwarranted suffering.  None of us want to imagine those we love being treated with the cruelty suffered by the Servant described in this text.  Yet beyond what the eye can see or the imagination can embrace, is the redeeming word of hope to all who are afflicted, to all who suffer:  “Out of his anguish shall he see light … the righteous one shall make many righteous.”  God can bring out of the darkest night a new day.  Let us claim this day with gratitude to the One who redeems them all.

Gracious giver of all our days, grant us open spirits
to see your redeeming grace at work in the dark places of our world,
and in the hard places of our lives.