Light to the Nations

1/11/2011 St John’s College communion service

Preacher: Calvin Samuel

Worship leading: St Nic’s Gospel Choir

Scripture: Isaiah 42:1-9, John 2:13-22

Calvin delved a little into the problems that this text causes in trying to locate it in it s place with the narrative of Jesus life and ministry, its depiction of Jesus’ violence in the use of a whip and how we apply it today. He touched on the various ways this text has been applied both in terms of Jesus concern for the gentile believers robbed of their only place of worship within the temple complex to the prophetic  action of the Christ come to reclaim his rightful place.

In applying the text to today Calvin highlighted something that really caught my imagination in that in some ways the situation at St Paul’s with the protesters challenge the greed of the stock exchange camping out on its doorsteps to has some interesting resonances with the Gospel text. These resonances bring a challenge both to the Church in terms of how it responds to the truly remarkable opportunity of having moral aware people people seeking a better world encamped on its steps, and to us as to how we respond to the culture around us with truly Christian kingdom perspectives and priorities; Where is our radical edge? How can we be a light to the nations if we have nothing to distinguish us from the culture around us beyond the peculiar habit of going to Church?

I began the picture in the last few moments of the sermon with more of a visual idea than a theological o except maybe the phrase “A light to the nations”. The question that was in my mind was which was the light to the nations? The tented protestors or the church on whose steps they are encamped? I sense that the questions are with the protestors and the answer lies with the Church, if only it would preach it.

I guess the image was done more in hope and prayer that the light of Christ would shine from the Church.

After the service Steve Haskett, a fellow student, came to me and said: “Tonight as we prayed for the situation at St Paul’s during the intercessions I got a very clear picture of beams of light bursting out of the doors and windows of the cathedral onto and into the tents outside. It was an amazing picture of the Cathedral ‘being light’ to the protesters. It was incredible then when I looked around a couple of minutes later and saw that you had drawn almost exactly what I had seen!

I think this Post by my lovely wife, Sally, on her blog Eternal Echoes , is a good addition to this post:


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