Monthly Archives: December 2007

January 20


isaiah 49:1-7
Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away! The LORD called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me. He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away. And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” But I said, “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the LORD, and my reward with my God.” And now the LORD says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the sight of the LORD, and my God has become my strength— he says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
Thus says the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nations, the slave of rulers, “Kings shall see and stand up, princes, and they shall prostrate themselves, because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”

Last week we talked about God’s call through baptism, and focused on the “grace” side of the equation—God’s unconditional love. This week we focus on the “service” side of the equation. We are called “for service as well as salvation” (as the Book of Order puts it). So we turn to one of the “servant songs” of Isaiah. We don’t know who the servant really is/was/will be. Sometimes it seems to be an individual, sometimes the whole people of Israel. Christians have interpreted these songs as pointing to Jesus, and it’s possible Jesus himself saw his ministry in light of these songs. But if we are Christians—followers of Christ—then these songs are about us as well. Each song has a different emphasis. A few things we see in this: the servant is “called” from before birth (before we take our first breath we are already “in service” to God); the servant fails but continues to serve God (or God continues to work through the servant) even when he/she fails; the servant is called to be a “light to the nations”—that is, to let the love and justice of God shine through them. We’ll use this text to reflect on what it means to be called to serve God. (RAF)