Two Attitudes

Friday, February 1, 2013 — Week of 3 Epiphany (Year One)

Brigid (Bride), 523

[Go to for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office

(Book of Common Prayer, p. 944)

Psalms 40, 54 (morning) // 51 (evening)

Isaiah 50:1-11

Galatians 3:15-22

Mark 6:47-56

I was struck today by the last two verses of our reading from Isaiah. The context is significant. Chapter 50 begins with some challenging questions spoken in the voice of God. These questions are spoken to the angry, despondent, depressed, and cynical exiles whom Isaiah addresses. They believe either that God has abandoned them or that God is simply superfluous. The prophet insists that God is just — the peoples’ unfaithfulness was the cause of their exile. And Isaiah insists that God is as powerful now as ever — as powerful now as God was from the time of the creation and the exodus.

The next paragraph speaks of the suffering of Israel and of the prophet who has been faithful to listen to God despite the taunts of the cynical. Despite opposition, the faithful servant knows that God will vindicate.

That’s the context for these final two verses where Isaiah characterizes two contrasting attitudes toward God. The faithful attitude, like that of the suffering servant, respects God “and obeys the voice of his servant.” Even though the faithful disciple “walks in darkness and has no light” the servant “trusts in the name of the Lord and relies upon his God.”

Listen to this characterization of the rebellious ones. “But all of you are kindlers of fire, lighters of firebrands. Walk in the flame of your fire, and among the brands that you have kindled! This is what you shall have from my hand: you shall lie down in torment.”

Those who seek the light of God’s will, even though they may feel like they are walking in darkness, will be guided and vindicated. But those who create a fire of their own making, who light things up with the firebrands of their own willfulness, will simply kindle destruction.

The obedient faithful ones feel as though they live in the dark, and yet they are being guided by God’s light. The disobedience willful ones feel powerful and self determining, and yet they are igniting fires that will bring ruin.

It makes me want to look at my own faithfulness and willfullness.

It makes me want to look for those quiet, faithful servants who bring light even though they seem to be under the radar.

And, it’s not hard to see the firebrands exercising their power while creating havoc with unintended consequences.

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