Isaiah 42:1-9 NRSV
Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have
put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not
cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will
not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring
forth justice. He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established
justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his teaching.
Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and
stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives
breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it: I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by
the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to
the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from
the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am the Lord, that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my
praise to idols. See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now
declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was privileged that she invited me into
her dying. Her battle with cancer was
fierce but swift. That cool weekend in
October all those years ago was exactly seven months since her diagnosis. As I entered her room that Sunday morning,
she was barely conscious, her eyes darting around the room as if there were
someone else present. In the moments of quietness, I took my journal and wrote
about our life together.
Being my mother’s youngest sister, she was my aunt. But due to the proximity of
our ages, she was also a friend: we even double-dated when I was in my late
teens. I recalled how she remained at
home with my grandmother, tending to her every need until “gram” passed away.
When things were tough she worked two jobs to make ends meet. She wrote
countless handwritten letters in her life, sometimes exceeding eight pages, filled with news of her life, the family, inquiries about how we
were. I remembered how she became fast friends with Susie the first time they
met, and how, by betting her street address numbers every day in the Ohio lottery, she was able to amass enough money to travel
to Europe with our Chancel Choir. Throughout
all those years of memories, and certainly through what was a very painful
battle, I never heard her complain or make a caustic remark about anyone or
On the television that afternoon was the weekly pro football game (something she
never missed). Oddly enough, the Chiefs were playing that day. At one point she
stirred and I asked if I could get her anything at all. With her usual sense of
humor, she remarked “a new body would be nice.” Moments later she was gone. At the moment she
passed from life into Mystery I realized that I had just experienced one of
life’s most sacred moments.
Occasionally, I take out that journal and her life comes back into view: always
the same details, and yet transformed into something new. And, by inviting me
into her dying, I too was transformed, and I was never the same again.
Prayer: Spirit of all things new, in our lives and in our
memories, may we be transformed into something new. By participating fully in
this life, in the face of life and death, may we never be the same again. Amen.
Rev. David Diebold
Minister of Music