One crisp wintry day when I was a young girl, I decided to go for a walk after school. Shortly after I started my walk, snow began to fall. Within a few minutes, the snowfall became heavy, and I found it difficult to see. I became disoriented, and I was not sure how to find my way home. I was afraid and did not know what to do. My mother became concerned, so she turned on the porch light. I had just started to get my bearings when I saw the glow of the porch light in the distance. I followed that light and found my way home.
In today’s reading, the Israelites are caught—not in a snowstorm but in storms of captivity and loss. They experience disorientation and fear too. Like my mother did for me, God provides a light for the Israelites. God’s people, Israel, have experienced defeat, the destruction of the Temple, the loss of their land, and exile. The hopes of the people are pinned on their return to Jerusalem. In today’s passage, Isaiah prophesies for the third time the coming of a Servant. (The first, second, and fourth Servant Songs are found in Isaiah 42:1-4, Isaiah 50:4-11, and Isaiah 52:13–53:12.) The third Servant Song is prophesied amid the people’s despair. It brings a glimmer of hope. The prophet describes an agent, a Servant whom God is raising up. The task of the people of Israel is to listen and believe the message. Isaiah prophesies that God’s Servant will shout the message from the mountaintops to the coastlands. The Servant will make it known that Israel is still the people of God.
Have you experienced a time of disorientation? What words or events brought you a glimmer of hope?
These readings contain the common theme of the power of spoken testimony. Isaiah begins by telling his audience, “Listen to me!” He then recounts not only his own story but also the promises of restoration given to him by God. The psalmist gives testimony of his experience. Although he has been in a difficult place, God has called him out and has given him a new song of praise to proclaim. Paul and Sosthenes write to the Corinthians to remind them of the powerful testimony that they had given them in person, which was confirmed by God. John the Baptist cries out that Jesus is the Lamb of God and bears testimony to the miraculous signs at the baptism. Our testimony as believers today can be just as powerful.
Read Isaiah 49:1-7. What does it mean to be God’s servant? How does this Servant Song speak of your experiences of serving God?
Read Psalm 40:1-11. When has scripture sustained you? What words have become a real presence to you?
Read 1 Corinthians 1:1-9. When have you turned your gifts inward as a sign of spiritual or social status? How can gratitude help you use your gifts in service to God and others?
Read John 1:29-42. How have you experienced Jesus saying to you, “Come and see”?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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