“The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word.”
In addition to travel and anything to do with cloth and yarn, and, really – many other things – I love words.
Two years of high school Latin and a year of French whetted my appetite for the history of languages. I’m intrigued with the Great Vowel Shift and am glad that we still have pizza and not “pieza.” But I cringe when I hear, “Me and my friend are going to the mall” – even as I acknowledge that language is constantly changing.
Last year I finally bought a used copy of the compact Oxford English Dictionary – the one that requires a magnifying lens to read it. So many treasures in those two weighty volumes!
When I was in London last October, I visited the Churchill War Rooms and bought a small book of his quotes. I hadn’t known that he had received the Nobel Prize in Literature, but his words did much to “sustain the weary with a word” during World War II. Here’s a very brief sample of his wit and wisdom:
- “I am easily satisfied with the best.”
- “For myself, I am an optimist – it does not seem to be much use being anything else.”
- “Some people’s idea of [free speech] is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage.”
- “In war it does not matter who is right, but who is left.”
- “We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out.”
In politics, we now have a whole new genre of “fake news” and instant tweets with very little to “sustain the weary.”
We are weary of so much, and each of us could compose a long list. Today, others will have their world come crashing down as they hear the words, “Yes, it’s cancer.” or “Your refugee application was denied” or “All the Toys R Us stores will be closing.”
In all that, we so desperately need to hear words to sustain us and those we love. In Deuteronomy, we are urged to “Choose life.” Jesus tells his followers over and over, “Do not be afraid.”
But hear in Isaiah that the prophet is not merely a passive receiver of comfort, but the very one who has been given the “tongue of a teacher” to know how to sustain the weary with a word.
We are the ones we’ve been waiting for!
Soon we’ll be leaving this holy space, but we’ll meet many today who will need the sustenance of the words that God has given us and that only we can give to others.
May we be empowered to be the bearers of God’s Good News to the weary – and to all – we meet today.