The Name Beyond Names
And now YHWH says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” – Isaiah 49:5-6
On lectionary readings for Holy Tuesday include these words of Isaiah, the same prophet who Jesus quoted in some of his first sermons. The verses give encouragement for the task of living faithfully: God made me to serve the essence of light and life, says Isaiah. God is my strength.
Not only did God form the prophet for service. God re-formed, as well, enlarging the mission and the missionary so that Isaiah would be a light to all peoples. Isaiah delivers a new understanding of the Ruler-of-Heaven-and-Earth. God is also the Force-Who-Enlarges. God is the Creator-Who-Is-Still-Shaping-Me. God is Recognizing-Capacity-for-Good-We-Do-Not-Yet- Perceive.
On Holy Tuesday, the Force-Who-Enlarges takes on those who would make God small. The Creator-Who-Is-Still-Shaping-Me defies those who think in terms of caste or tribe. No matter the danger, Recognizing-Capacity-for-Good is larger than today’s trouble, or tomorrow’s, or the next day’s.
The Ruler-of-Heaven-and-Earth sent Isaiah, sent Jesus, and sends us, to the ends of the earth. And all the way to a cross that holds together heaven and earth. (But not quite. There are three days yet.)
Force-Who-Enlarges, I’m not sure today whether or when I will know if I am ready to bear
your light. And still I pray: melt me, mold me, fill me, use me. In the name of God-With-Us:
The Rev. Dr. John A. Nelson is Pastor and Teacher of the Congregational Church of Salisbury (CT).