Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12

See, my servant will prosper,
he shall be lifted up, exalted, rise to great heights.

As the crowds were appalled on seeing him
—so disfigured did he look
that he seemed no longer human—
so will the crowds be astonished at him,
and kings stand speechless before him;for they shall see something never told
and witness something never heard before:
‘Who could believe what we have heard,
and to whom has the power of Yahweh been revealed?’
Like a sapling he grew up in front of us,
like a root in arid ground.
Without beauty, without majesty (we saw him),
no looks to attract our eyes;
a thing despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering,
a man to make people screen their faces;
he was despised and we took no account of him.

And yet ours were the sufferings he bore,
ours the sorrows he carried.
But we thought of him as someone punished,
struck by God, and brought low.
Yet he was pierced through for our faults,
crushed for our sins.
On him lies a punishment that brings us peace,
and through his wounds we are healed.

We had all gone astray like sheep,
each taking his own way,
and Yahweh burdened him
with the sins of all of us.
Harshly dealt with, he bore it humbly,
he never opened his mouth,
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter-house,
like a sheep that is dumb before its shearers
never opening its mouth.

By force and by law he was taken;
would anyone plead his cause?
Yes, he was torn away from the land of the living;
for our faults struck down in death.
They gave him a grave with the wicked,
a tomb with evildoers,
though he had done no wrong
and there had been no perjury in his mouth.

Yahweh has been pleased to crush him with suffering.
If he offers his life in atonement,
he shall see his heirs, he shall have a long life
and through him what Yahweh wishes will be done.

His soul's anguish over
he shall see the light and be content.
By his sufferings shall my servant justify many,
taking their faults on himself.

Hence I will grant whole hordes for his tribute,
he shall divide the spoil with the mighty,
for surrendering himself to death
and letting himself be taken for a sinner,
while he was bearing the faults of many
and praying all the time for sinners.

A story for Holy Thursday

To me, Holy Thursday is the most poignant day on the Church calendar, the intersection of sorrow, joy, anticipation, and dread. I hope no one minds my sharing a little story about one of the things that happened on this night roughly 2,000 years ago:

It was before the festival of the Passover, and Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to pass from this world to the Father. He had always loved those who were his in the world, but now he showed how perfect his love was.

They were at supper, and the devil had already put it into the mind of Judas Iscariot son of Simon, to betray him. Jesus knew that the Father had put everything into his hands, and that he had come from God and was returning to God, and he got up from the table, removed his outer garment and, taking a towel, wrapped it round his waist; he then poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel he was wearing.


When he had washed their feet and put on his clothes again he went back to the table. “Do you understand” he said “what I have done to you? You call me Master and Lord, and rightly; so I am. If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you.”

John 13:1–5, 12–15 (Jerusalem Bible 1966).

Ironically, the pastor’s name is “Lamb”

It seems somebody stole a trailer belonging to the Revolution Church in Canton, Georgia and full of stuff the church needs every Sunday. So the pastor, with the love of Christ in his heart, wrote this open letter to the thieves:

To the people who stole our trailer:

First let me say, God loves you. Second let me say we forgive you. We really don’t want to forgive you, but God says we should so we do. Third of all I want you to know that I think you are scum bags. I think you are lowlife degenerates who need a good butt kicking. Matter of fact I feel so strongly about the fact that you need a good butt kicking that I am volunteering to do it. I hope you believe in God because you should get on your knees and cry out to Him like never before because if we find you, I can promise we will kick the crap out of you. It won’t be pretty, it won’t be over quickly, and it will be very painful. I know that doesn’t sound very nice but I feel pretty strongly that is what you need.

I am curious what kind of lowlife you must be? Trust me, I have been around some pretty low ones before but never one that would be so low as to steal from a church. I understand you probably need some crack or something like that but stealing from a church would scare me. It would scare me more once I realized which church I stole it from. We are probably the only church you have ever heard of that will honestly break your legs once you are found.

Let me say again that we DO forgive you. But there are still consequences for your sin and your consequence will be toting a butt kicking. It is obvious you aren’t very smart so let me give you some advice. Get that trailer out of the county QUICK. As soon as I hit publish on this blog post a church of about 1000 crazy people will know that our black, children’s trailer has been stolen and I can promise they will be on the lookout for it. You would much rather me find you then one of them. :)

Best Wishes,

Gary Lamb

Lead Pastor, Revolution Church

Hat tip to Law Religion Culture Review.

Bleeding hearts, unite.

Today’s SojoMail brought this quotation of the week, by Nick Kristof:

Bleeding-heart liberals could accomplish far more if they reached out to build common cause with bleeding-heart conservatives.

Kristof describes some of those bleeding-heart conservatives — evangelicals and Catholics — who are pouring their hearts and souls into fighting AIDS, hunger, and genocide. His conclusion about these conservatives:

We can disagree sharply with their politics, but to mock them underscores our own ignorance and prejudice.

Then I must not be a rational person.

Bill Maher, whom I usually like, actually said this:

You can’t be a rational person six days a week … and on one day of the week, go to a building, and think you’re drinking the blood of a two-thousand-year-old space god.

Bad theology there, Bill. Actually the Word is more than 2,000 years old. And though I have a B.A. in theology from a Catholic college, I have no idea what a “space god” is. (Hat tip to God’s Politics.)

Using religion

In a recent op-ed, Paul Waldman makes interesting observations about the presidential candidates’ religious stands — or lack thereof. Here are a few choice quotations:

  • Nearly all of the major contenders want to have it both ways on religion: They want credit from religious voters for having a strong faith, but they don't want to talk about what they actually believe.
  • Listen to candidates talk about religion  and they seem to be following two rules:

    1) Profess that nothing is more important to you than your religion.

    2) Be as vague as possible about your religion.

  • Candidates who tell us how important their faith is to them are hoping that religious Americans will come away with warm feelings about them. But if they aren't willing to discuss just what that faith entails, they're saying they want people to vote for them because of their religion, but they don't want anyone to vote against them because of their religion.