Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
'Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
He will come and save you.'
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
(New Revised Standard Version)
When I first went to Israel we were living in Cyprus and hopped on a ship to spend a few days touring the country. I remember the piles of tanks, for it was just after the 'six-day war'! But the greatest surprise was the immensity of the desert, and the sight of miles of green crops, with sophisticated watering systems, all surrounded by barbed-wire fences, before the desert returned again. Next would come the black tents of a Bedouin camp. The difference between the two places was shocking! I hold no special brief for modern-day Israel, having seen how Palestinian Christians are treated, but what they have achieved is a modern-day miracle.
In our reading Isaiah is not speaking of what humans can accomplish, he is speaking of God's kingdom. When John the Baptist sends a message to Jesus asking if he is the Messiah, the one who has come to bring in God's kingdom, Jesus says: "Tell John what you see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them."
We believe that God's Kingdom of Love is partly here, wherever there is evidence of love, but it is not yet complete. This Kingdom broke into ours with the work of Jesus, and our task, with God's help, is to bring this Kingdom of Love into being!
You worked with ordinary people
to spread God's message of love.
May we continue Your work
wherever we can,
to help pass on Your message
of hope and peace
in our world.