Monday, January 7, 2008


Isaiah 42: 1-9 is the Hebrew Text for this week in which we will celebrate the Baptism of Jesus. The passage from Isaiah speaks words of comfort to a people who had been exiled and promises a better day for them. The passage will also be important for Matthew as the words describe the type of leadership that Jesus will offer.

At first glance, the words from Isaiah draw me to thoughts of current presidential debates, caucuses and primaries. Candidates are going all out to try to convey the message that they are the right candidate for the job of President.

So that makes me wonder, what qualities do we look for in leadership? Is leadership (in a president, in a church, in a family) important to us?

William R. Long in his commentary The Baptism of Jesus describes leadership in terms of servant leadership and describes the passage from Isaiah as setting forth a "fourfold role of this servant: (1) he is inconspicuous; (2) he is gentle; (3) he perseveres, and (4) he triumphs.

What stands out to me in this list of servant leadership qualities, is gentleness. In a time when there is so very much violence in the world, what does it look like for a leader to be both strong and gentle?

Long continues: "How do reeds become crushed or oppressed? By the forces of nature and of people. Reeds become smashed because of storms and diseases, because of people stomping over them, because of inadequate nourishment. We are reeds, subject to the forces of life that we cannot control and that sometimes descend on us with frightening speed and mercilessness. And so, we live our lives in a crushed condition."

And so, perhaps, we are ready for a civic leader who is gentle is her or his leadership. And certainly we, like the people of Isaiah's the people of Jesus' time long for gentleness when we feel like crushed reeds. God, in Christ, will prove to be both a strong and gentle leader for all.

Journey On...


Kris said...

I was especially struck by verse 6 & 7. I have been trying to think of ways our congregation can bring light to those in darkness. My first thought, not surprisingly I guess, was education. Over the years, the idea of an after school tutoring/mentoring program has popped into my head. I have dismissed it because everyone is already so busy, etc. Maybe this year our congregation could volunteer to tutor 150 hours. (10 people tutor 1 hour per week for 15 weeks) Even 1 hour of tutoring a week could make a huge difference for a struggling student.


Rochelle said...

What a great idea! Education certainly helps to shed light in darkness...and having someone take the time to help out matters a lot to youngster. We'll have to think about how we might be able to make that dream a reality. Thank you so much for sharing.