Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Second Sunday of Epiphany, Year C: Isaiah 62:1-5

The appointed lesson for this Sunday, 2 Epiphany, Year C, is Isaiah 62:1-5. I have recently posted on this text, so please check out my preceding comments. Click here for some reflections on the theology of beauty in the text. Click here for somes notes on the identity of the text's speaker and on his message of proclamation and mission. The text is exceedingly rich, so let our interpretive work continue...

There is a rather full discussion of the text's historical criticism over at the CriVoice site, which you can check out by clicking here. Here is a short excerpt from what Dennis Bratcher has to say there that I found helpful:

This new light [that dawns in our passage (62:1)], the restoration of Israel as the people of God, is a light that will shine into the world. The Hebrew actually speaks of the light going forth: "until her justice goes forth like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch." Verse two clearly picks up this idea that "the nations will see your vindication." In any case, this "light," this new presence of God with Israel that brings restoration and vindication, will shine so brightly that it will easily be seen by "the nations."

This continues the theme of mission that has come to dominate restoration language in Isaiah. Israel is not to exist only for herself, but is called to be "a light to the nations" (Isa 42:6, 49:6). If the purpose of God’s people is to be a light to the nations, it is only logical that they cannot be that light unless they themselves have the light. In other words, the restoration of Israel is not simply for the purpose of restoring the nation of Israel as God’s people. It has a deeper purpose, that of bringing the "light" of restoration to Israel so that light of God can shine into the world.

...We lift the light to the nations! But we do so with humility, knowing that not so long ago we were "forsaken" and in darkness. Perhaps if we retain that humility, that profound sense of God’s grace that so recently has given us a new name [62:4], we will be able more authentically to bear witness to the transforming light of God's presence. Perhaps finally, it is in that humility, that sense of grace, that our own light shines most brightly.

Discussion to be continued. Stay tuned...


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