Our reading for today begins with the second of four “servant songs” in Second Isaiah, passages that identify someone through whom God will bring salvation for God’s people. This particular song is spectacular in its announcement that salvation will be not only for the nation of Israel, but will extend to all nations. The servant will be the “light” that shows the way.
As we learned yesterday, Christians have come to understand Jesus as the ultimate fulfillment of the servant prophecies in Isaiah. He is the one who illuminates the path of salvation. When we gather for Christmas Eve services, we light candles as a reminder that Jesus has come to bring light into a world of darkness so that all might come to know God. In many churches, candles are lit whenever the congregation gathers to worship as a sign of Christ’s presence. The continuing presence of light is also a reminder that Jesus’ own life is not the end of the story.
Following the death and resurrection of Christ, the church is given the awesome calling of being a “light to the nations.” It is the particular community formed by Christ for the purpose of keeping his witness alive in the world. Even Jesus himself uses the metaphor of light in talking to the disciples about their responsibility:
“You are the light of the world. . .let your light shine before others that they might see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
We don’t always shine as bright as we should. Yet, we can still hear the words of Jesus urging us on: “. . .and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)