Isaiah 49:1-7 (NRSV)
Chapter 49Listen 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. Verse 2He 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. Verse 3And he said to me, "You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified." Verse 4But 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." Verse 5And 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- Verse 6he 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."
Verse 7Thus 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."
Just before the fall of Babylon in 539 B.C.E., the prophet Isaiah speaks God's word of hope to the people of Israel in exile. They are to be more than mere survivors. They shall be as "a light to the nations," so that God's salvation may reach to the farthest places on earth.
"A light to the nations" is reminiscent of Jesus' words about himself: "I am the light of the world" (John 8:12). In this season of Epiphany, the season of light, we see Jesus, who has come into the world to bring the light of God's presence into the lives of people living in darkness.
In the Service of Holy Baptism we hear Jesus' words spoken as a candle is lit: "Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." In baptism we are commissioned and sent to let the light of Christ shine throughout the world.
Creator of light, you call us to be children of light. Use us to be present for others whose lives are dimmed, by bringing the hope of the one who calls himself the Light of the World: Christ Jesus. Amen.