The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. For those who lived in a land of deep shadows— light! sunbursts of light! You repopulated the nation, you expanded its joy. Oh, they’re so glad in your presence! Festival joy! The joy of a great celebration, sharing rich gifts and warm greetings.
Isaiah 9: 2-3 The Message
This reading from Isaiah 9 is another prophecy about the coming Messiah. The imagery in the Psalm draws steep contrasts: between darkness and light, and between deep shadows and sunbursts. The language is colorful, and dramatic.
Yet the stark and extreme language is appropriate. Isaiah is describing the difference between the time before the Messiah arrives, and after the Messiah comes into our world.
The image of stumbling around in the darkness is an apt one for living in sin. Often, those lost in sin don’t have a clear direction. They keep bumping into the unfortunate consequences of their sin. It is perhaps appropriate for us to talk about “falling” into sin. Sin unbalances us, and we often end up hurting ourselves, or hurting others.
When Christ came into the world, it was like someone turned on the light switch for the very first time. What had been murky and confusing before is now crystal clear. For me, it’s like coming downstairs in the dark morning and turning on the Christmas tree lights. Suddenly there is a light which twinkles, and lights up the room.
The description of God as light continues in the New Testament. Listen to these words from The Gospel of John, Chapter One:
This, in essence, is the message we heard from Christ and are passing on to you: God is light, pure light; there's not a trace of darkness in him. If we claim that we experience a shared life with him and continue to stumble around in the dark, we're obviously lying through our teeth - we're not living what we claim. But if we walk in the light, God himself being the light, we also experience a shared life with one another, as the sacrificed blood of Jesus, God's Son, purges all our sin.
John 1: 5-7
In this season when those of us in the Northern Hemisphere experience comparatively little light (winter solstice is near), let us remind ourselves that the light of Jesus’ love is always with us. Six months from now we will enjoy daylight for many hours. No matter what time of year it is, Jesus' light is always shining. May His Word be a light unto your feet.
Lord of light,
I thank You that when there is darkness, You are holding the lamp for me. Keep my eyes focused on the path You lay before me. Protect me from the darkness the world, which constantly wants to pull me in. Thank You for lighting up my life with Your abundant light. May Your light shine forth in my community, our nation, and our world.
I pray this prayer in the name of Your Son, the Light of the World, Jesus Christ. Amen