Read Isaiah 50.4-9a

The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of a teacher,
                that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word.
 Morning by morning he wakens—
                wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught.
 The Lord GOD has opened my ear,
                and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward.
I gave my back to those who struck me,
                and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard;
I did not hide my face from insult and spitting.
The Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced;
                therefore I have set my face like flint,
                                and I know that I shall not be put to shame;
                 he who vindicates me is near.
Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together.
Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me.
 It is the Lord GOD who helps me; who will declare me guilty?


From Rev. Richard Howard, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Morgantown

                Darkness comes in many forms: death, disease, disability, depression, disappointment, doubt, loss of friends, financial woes, missed opportunities, unrewarded effort.  The shallowness of life can leave us wallowing in darkness, not knowing which way to turn.

                As Christians, we read the words of Isaiah through the lens of Jesus Christ.  As Christians, we read “teacher” and see “Jesus.”  The questions expressed by Isaiah in this passage, “Who will contend with me?” and “Who are my adversaries?” are echoed in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans, when in chapter eight he asks, “Who will bring any charge against God’s elect?” and “Who is to condemn?”  For Paul, and for us, it is the love of God as revealed in Christ Jesus that overcomes all the darkness, even the ultimate darkness: death itself.

                As we reflect on Isaiah’s words this day, may we take heart that God’s help, no matter what, will always be with us.

Great Protector, our lives, our hopes, our dreams,
our fears are in your hands.  Accept us with your enveloping arms,
 that we may dwell with you in safety forever.