“And he said to me, ‘You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.’  But I said, ‘I have laboured 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.’  And 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 honoured in the sight of the Lord, and my God has become my strength— he 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.’” (Isaiah 49:3-6)  The prophet most likely is writing to a discouraged group.  All their glory, all their pride would seem to be a thing of the past.  Israel has been ground down by the nations and those who are left are in exile.  And it is to these people that an outrageous promise is made.  Not only will the fortunes of Israel be restored but they will come to understand the reason why God chose them to begin with.  The ones who now dwell in darkness shall become light.  The ones who have been ground down to nothing will become the very means by which all the powers yield to the true Lord.  Many of us who read this serve at a time and in a place where it would be easy to think that our best years are behind us.  Perhaps the prophet might also speak to us and ask if our hopes of the return of past glory or of saving an institution are also “too light a thing.”  What if in this very moment of institutional weakness, we might hear again the promise and be restored to our true vocation: to offer Christ to a hurting world?  That is a work worthy of those who bear the name of Christ.  That is a ministry possible because the Lord does not give up even when we may be tempted to do so.  Have a great week!