Today’s passage comes from Isaiah’s third servant song. In the servant songs, Israel or the prophet testifies to the calling God has given—the calling to live out and bear witness to God’s presence in the world. In this song, the servant says, “The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word.” Certainly we consider this task part of the calling of a servant of God. A servant notices the weary, then speaks to sustain those most vulnerable to despair.
The servant of God speaks to sustain; yet in these verses, the servant primarily listens. “Morning by morning he awakens my ear.” What happens when we make our Lent a “listening Lent”? Where do we hear wisdom? Might it come from the weary ones we have sustained? from those who have gone before us, the ancestors on whose shoulders we stand? Our grandmother who used to sing “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness”?
If we listen to the world around us we may be confronted with questions that pierce the armor of our denials, rationalizations, and self-deceptions. We may find ourselves listening to someone who challenges our closed circle of certainty, the ways that culturally incarcerate and bind us.
When we are servant listeners, something fresh can break through. We may find new alternatives, new solutions to dilemmas, or new answers to questions. Then the way opens so that we can hear, feel, and respond with communal wisdom and courage. There is the possibility of genuine hope. We listen. We learn. We are revived, and we find new ways to be God’s servant.
Loving God, open our ears to hear the wisdom of those around us, those who are different from ourselves, perhaps even our enemies. Amen.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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