Have you ever asked yourself the question, “What am I hoping for this Christmas?” Most of us would probably answer with some item we’re hoping that Santa puts in our stocking or neatly wrapped under the tree. And that’s fair enough, really. Many probably associate hope with the birth of our savior, Jesus. That’s a good thing, we have tremendous hope centered on the birth of Christ. But even when we think about the birth of Jesus, what is it we’re hoping for in that?
Are we hoping for the forgiveness of our sins? Are we hoping for the salvation of our souls? Are we hoping for another two hours of sleep on Christmas morning? What are we hoping for?
Isaiah turns things around on us this morning. It would seem like Isaiah is forecasting, that is to say giving a prophecy, for the birth of the coming savior. Would it surprise you to hear that isn’t who Isaiah is referring to? Kind of surprises me every time I read Isaiah 42. The truth is that God, through the prophet Isaiah, is telling the people of God that they are God’s chosen servants and that they are to serve the people around them. They have been chosen by God to be a covenant to the people, a light to the nations,7to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.
Isaiah is speaking to Jewish people who have been in exile for a bit and letting them know that even though they may be aliens in a foreign land they are still people of God and are called to act accordingly. Bring a covenant, a promise, to the people. Let the light of God shine for people. Open eyes that will not see. Bring people out of whatever dungeon they’re trapped in. Bring out those who sit in darkness.
We know, as did Isaiah and the exiles around him, that throughout our life we are going to be, and/or meet, reeds who have been bruised. That is to say people who are oppressed and downtrodden by the systems of power they are under. We are going to be, and/or meet, candles whose wick is burning dimly. That is to say people who are burnt out and tired. As people of God, just as the Jewish people in exile were, we are called to give hope to those reeds who have been bruised and those candles who are burning dimly. Certainly, this is a worthy Advent theme.
It’s Advent because it points us to be the people of hope that God wants the world to see. Not because we’re that good looking, but because the world is always in need of hope. And we are the people who have hope in a savior, a savior for the world. As we rightly ponder what it is we hope for in Advent, it is also right to ponder how we are that hope for those who find themselves a little short on hope this year. We are the ones to Bring Christ’s Love to Life!