This passage from Isaiah, known as the ‘Suffering Servant’ has some strong links to the prophesy of the coming Messiah. But there is a lot more to this passage than just prophecy. The subject of this passage has a lot to be getting on with. ‘Justice’ is mentioned three times within these short verses. As well as describing that justice will be brought to the nations, the passage, curiously, speaks of the way justice will be brought… or rather how it will not be brought.
It would appear that justice will not be brought in a large public display of power or might, rather justice will be brought by working with what is left, what is good—the dim wick and the bruised reed. After the challenge and struggle, justice needs to be nurtured in order to root itself in society. In the first two weeks of Advent we have seen the vision of God growing, and the ripples of justice travelling further and further. From Habbakuk, urging us to write the vision in order that people can read it, we moved to Esther and the story of God’s vision and love for a whole community. This week we see the vision of God growing even further, to encompass all.
What would our church communities look like, or feel like, if they were truly the people working to bring about God’s vision of justice for all? The light has been given to the people of God to light the way for others.
With the story of the incarnation, the coming of God in human form, about to be read in our churches, lived by communities and experienced by individuals, the light of that incarnation helps the people of faith see and understand God’s vision. The vision of God is for all.
Through the Spirit, God’s servant will be a light to the nations, bringing justice, healing and wholeness, and release to prisoners. The people of faith are God’s servant, our church communities are God’s servant. May we think about this passage not in a distant way, as if someone else is the only servant of God called to undertake this work and bring about this vision. It is not about someone else, it is about ‘us’. For such a time as this God’s servant(s) will work for justice…. each and every one of us.