Grace and peace to you, from God our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
We have, today, a reading from Isaiah, chapter 42. Isaiah 42 was written when the people had been exiled to Babylon. We need to look at the Scripture three ways.
After Babylon’s victory over Israel, how would this passage sound to the Israelites of Isaiah’s time? For them, this passage, from the prophet Isaiah, brought words of hope and renewal of their covenant with God that the people of Israel were servants of God. They are to, again, be a light to the nations, living as servants of God, renewing the covenant God had made with Abraham. These are God’s words to Abraham in the book of Genesis: “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. Isaiah’s words remind the people that even in exile, God did not abandon them. Through the words of Isaiah, God calls them back to be the people of God and a light to the world.
The writers of the Gospels also use Isaiah’s words to talk about Jesus. Our reading from Matthew 12 declares Jesus to be God’s servant, with the words of Isaiah: “Here is my servant, whom I have chosen, my beloved, with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice. When we hear Isaiah’s words today, we too are reminded that God’s covenant with God’s people continues. We join the family of the people of God when we also act out what Isaiah first called the people of God to be. We too hear God’s words for us: “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.
We here at Dobbs Ferry Lutheran participate in God’s covenant when we gather here. We do so because we know that here we will meet God. We will hear Scripture, share in Communion, and encourage each other in faith. As we go out of here, the words of Isaiah and the life of Jesus guide us, as we live our lives through what we hear and do at this congregation. We are reminded to see the needs of the people around us, but more than that, we can see each and every person as a child of God - worthy of our love - just as we are worthy of God’s love. So, in these last days of Advent, as we anticipate the return of Jesus, may we be God’s hands and feet in a hurting world. And because this reading is also important to the Gospel writers. We know this because these words are used in the New Testament to describe Jesus. And finally, we need to see how these words hear, in our ears today. There are several ways to read this passage.