Tag Archives: Matt. 3

a bruised reed he will not break

Gerard David, "Baptism of Christ", 1502 - 1508, Musee Communal, Bruge, Belgium.

Gerard David, “Baptism of Christ”, 1502 – 1508, Musee Communal, Bruge, Belgium.

Isaiah 42:1-9, Matt. 3:13-17
For Sunday, January 14, 2014
Epiphany, Year A, Baptism of the Lord

When I first read this week’s readings this phrase immediately jumped out:  “A bruised reed he will not break” (Isaiah 42:3).  The reason it jumped out (and I’m only sharing this with you)  is because I know I’m a bruised reed.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

How can a reed get a bruise?  This is where my wife would say, “You are so literal.”  Well, sorry, but that’s what the text says… literally.  Anyway, the picture is of a reed that has broken so that the top is dangling down.  Have you ever walked passed one of those?  There is an almost irresistible urge to snap it off.  That thing just shouldn’t sit there dangling!  It’s not right.  It actually feels good to snap it off, right?  Snap.  Ahhh….  All is right with the world.

Now, for you fellow literalists, the Prophet Isaiah is using this as a metaphor, which is a future of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not …. wait for it …. literally applicable.  Ohhhh….  okay then.  So what is the object or action here?  It’s weak or oppressed people.  Isaiah is saying this: “Even though it might seem the world is a harsh place that would be better off without you, there is a servant of God coming who not only does not concur, but when he comes is going to put you and your world right.  In other words, whatever your hurt, don’t despair, because hope is coming.  

My hurt is trauma from my childhood due to a mentally ill Mom.  Like a soldier who dives in the bushes every time he hears a loud noise, I am prone to similar subconscious emotional reactions.  I’ve been working through layers of this trauma my entire adult life.  It’s actually become a joy to see how deep this goes, how the Holy Spirit is at work doing healing within me, and how he’s using all of this to enable me to be a blessing to others, as a business consultant no less.  In fact, over the holidays I launched my own consulting practice called Quiet Waters Consulting.  The big idea is to lead others into the restoration that I’m presently enjoying as a result of the Spirit’s work within me.  As Psalm 23 says, “He leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.”

The truth is we are all reeds and we all have our bruises.  We are all broken, we are all oppressed, because we live in a world alienated from it’s Creator.  Yet hope has come in Jesus, God’s beloved Son, so take heart.  And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17).


Point to ponder:
Where have you or are you seeing the Holy Spirit at work within you to strengthen the reed that has been bruised?


“Are you ready for Christmas?”

Adoration of the Magi (detail)
Quentin Metsys, 1526,
Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.)


Isaiah 11:1-10, Matt. 3:1-12
For Sunday, December 8, 2013
Second Sunday of Advent

“Are you ready for Christmas?”  This is the question inevitably asked by friends and colleagues. The orientation of the question is of course around shopping.  It’s really, “Have you finished your Christmas shopping?”  Wouldn’t it be interesting to respond this way: “Well, my shopping is done, so now I’m focused on getting ready for Christmas spiritually.”

Somewhere between Santa Claus and Rudolph all of us know that there is supposed to be a spiritual component to Christmas.  That word advent bobs to the surface at this point.  “Advent” is the anglicized version of the Latin word “adventus” which means “coming”.  Who is coming?  The long awaited Messiah, the one who would save us from ourselves.  He came to a lowly stable in an insignificant little hamlet called Bethlehem and the world was changed forever.

As a kid, I loved the cardboard advent calendar my Mom put on the refrigerator.  Every day we could open another little square and every revealed image brought us one step closer to the big day.  The big day for our young minds was “time to open presents!”  Yet the big day from a biblical perspective is when Messiah, the one who would save us from ourselves, is revealed to the world: “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse …. the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him – the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord” (Isa. 11:1-2).

So Messiah is coming.  That’s what Christmas is about.  Are we ready?  Ah… obviously… NOT.  So how do we get ready?  Simple.  Repent.  As John the Baptist says in this week’s reading in Matthew, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.”  To repent means to “turn around”.  We need to stop walking away from God and start walking toward him.  What if instead of constantly forcing Jesus to the periphery of our Christmas experience we made him the destination?  Wouldn’t that be a Christmas to remember?

Points to ponder:
What is your favorite childhood memory of Christmas?  Is there something in that memory that points to the joy of being given Jesus by your Heavenly Father?
What would it look like for you to get ready Christmas spiritually?