lightbulb“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights.” With these words the first of the Servant Songs in Isaiah begins. The example of the servant is one that we expect from someone called into service by God: Patient, merciful, non-violent. Full of love and a sense of justice for the oppressed.

It is no wonder that the Servant Songs were seen by the early church to have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The words my chosen one, in whom my soul delights embody the essence of a parent who loves their child. The connection is an easy one to make.

The portrayal of the servant as a leader is in stark contrast to the model of leadership we see today. In a corporate world that looks for credentials. A world that justifies CEO pay that is far beyond what the average employ earns. Walmart’s CEO earns over 23 million per year, with the average employee earning $22,000. That is a disparity of over a 1000:1 in pay .

This past November a Walmart store in Ohio held a food drive at Thanksgiving, for fellow employees who were in need. The company spokesperson thought that this was a wonderful thing, showing how the company takes care of its employee’s. How much employee’s care about one another.

The food drive isn’t a bad thing, but in North America from a major retailer you would think the intended target would be unnecessary. God’s Servant demonstrates a different type of leadership. One that is built upon humility and protecting the least of us.

Called to faithfully bring forth justice, the Servant will not stop until justice has been established upon the earth.

How will this happen?

God’s servant will not cry out, nor will the Servant shout out for justice! Rather than seek quick satisfaction or the easy win, God’s servant works faithfully, diligently healing the ills and hurts of the world. Ensuring that a bruised reed will not be broken, nor a dimly burning wick be quenched.

The Servant demonstrates a form of leadership that goes unseen in our world. A form of leadership that is often sorely lacking in the individuals we look to for leadership. It is a form of leadership that calls us into community. It asks us to lean upon one another and to work with one another. In doing so we build up the bruised reed and we add our light to the dimly burning wick.

A member of a church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped attending. After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit.

It was a chilly evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire. Guessing the reason for his pastor’s visit, the man welcomed her, led her to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited.

The pastor made herself at home but said nothing. In the grave silence, she contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs. After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone then she sat back in her chair, still silent.

The host watched all this in quiet contemplation. As the one lone ember’s flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and dead.

Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting. The pastor glanced at her watch and realized it was time to leave. She slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow, once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.

As the pastor reached the door to leave, her host said with a tear running down his cheek, ‘Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I will be back in church next Sunday.’

We live in a world today, which tries to say too much with too little don’t we?

Jesus calls us into community with one another.

Jesus call us to minister, care for and love one another.

Our individual lights enhance the light of those around us. Allowing us to become the light to the nations that God calls us to be.

In recent weeks we have experienced snow, freezing rain and the coldest temperatures our city has experienced in twenty years. During this time we have all experience some degree of hardship, some more than others. Loss of power, spoiled food, cold nights. However, the least among us, those without reliable access to food and shelter have felt these effects far greater than we.

The Servant Song calls us to work for the least among us. It calls us to come together and work with neighbours to overcome the difficulties. After the Ice Storm I was watching TV and noted a commercial, it was from one of those Personal Injury Law Firms. The message was if you have had property damaged due to a neighbour who neglected to maintain their property call us. You don’t have to pay unless we recover money for you.

That may be so, but you’ll never be able to repair the relationship you might have had with your neighbour. This message that society puts before us is counter to what God’s Servant demonstrates for us.

A message of compassion, of justice built upon trust and working with one another. Advocating for the poor and powerless, not suing for personal gain. We too need to trust in the message we find in God’s Servant, a message echoed in our call to service in Christ’s name.

For in doing so the former things come to pass, new things are declared and they spring forth. Friends, let us embrace the light, let us share the light with all people, let us join with God and be a part of something new. Amen.

Text: Isaiah 42: 1-9

This brief meditation was offered during a course at Knox College. Many thanks to my partner Monica in organizing the worship service, for her idea’s and inspiration.