This being the first Sunday of December we will be celebrating Communion.
The Scripture Reading this week is Isaiah 42:1-9
The Sermon title is The Servant
Early Thoughts: Who is this servant? And how does it tie in to Christmas preparations?
For most, if not all of church history the Christian community has interpreted the Servant songs of Isaiah as referring to Jesus, the Messiah. It is, however, less clear what Isaiah might have meant. He could have been sharing a messianic "job description" (although it misses distinct things that the Messiah was expected to accomplish--like the renewal of the Davidic monarchy) and so the servant is the Messiah. Or the Servant could be the people/nation as a whole. In English translation (both in Christian Bibles and in my copy of the Tanakh, the Jewish Bible) I personally think it reads as the Servant as a singular individual. And as the inheritor of Christian tradition I see Christ in it quite clearly.
Which answers how this relates to Christmas. It isn't about pregnancy and birth but it does tell us something about the one who will be born.
I think it also tells us something about the Kingdom. Whatever else Jesus was or did, it is clear in the Gospel accounts that his primary passion, his main message was proclaiming the coming of the Kingdom of God. And so he described what the Kingdom would be like, he showed how people would live in the Kingdom. It could be argued that everything Jesus did or said--the wise aphorisms, the parables, the healings, everything--was about the Kingdom. And so everything that the servant does in this passage is also about building or living in the Kingdom.
In the Advent season we are not only waiting to celebrate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth 2 millennia ago. We are also waiting for the Kingdom to be born in our midst in 2014. Where do we look for the servant today?