Isaiah 9:2-7, Luke 2:1-14
Our passage from Isaiah begins with “The people who walked in darkness…”
That darkness relates to war, and all that goes with it: Loss of family and friends, the terror of invasion, loss of livelihood and homes, loss of crops and farm animals. The word “darkness” aptly describes the reality of living under an occupying army. The darkness is a poetic way to describe barbaric acts which lead to great fear and anxiety for those suffering.
The darkness which the poet and prophet Isaiah describes is the result of God’s punishment for Israel’s sin. Israel, as a nation, chose to worship other gods, forgo the lifestyle that God instructed them to live, and to imitate their pagan neighbors.
Yet, as God punishes in the Old Testament, he always leaves his people with hope. In the midst of darkness God provides a light that burns. People, learning that their own choices did not do much for them, are drawn to the light burning out ahead of us.
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined.”
Sin, sinful choices, and its aftermath continue to plague us. And, thanks to our insights from psychology, sociology, and other disciplines, we are aware that there are other kinds of darkness that shroud us of which we do not necessarily choose. Here I am thinking of depression, the mental and spiritual challenge of living with chronic illness or impending death, anxiety, or guilt.
Whatever that darkness is; whatever you and your people may be contending with tonight; we must know that God does not leave us abandoned. The light of God burns brightly for us. Any true healing is going to begin with God’s help.
Tonight, we rejoice. The Son of the Father is born for us. As Isaiah prophesied long ago:
“For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
This Savior’s name is Jesus. Born in mean estate and to be found lying in a manger.
The angels announce the Savior’s arrival. The Star of Bethlehem shines upon Jesus. His own light will grow brighter when his ministry among us begins at his baptism by John in the Jordon. It will continue to grow and draw all people to himself as he teaches us about the true kingdom of God, as he enters his passion. His light burns brightest when he is hung on the cross of Calvary and three days later upon the empty tomb.
This savior is the Wonderful Counselor and Prince of Peace. His life, words, death, and resurrection bring peace to all who believe in Him.
Jesus and the grace and forgiveness that he rings that He is can bring reconciliation and healing to individuals, families, communities, and even nations, if we let Him. Until that time, as we are impacted by the darkness, we know that we are not abandoned. Christ Jesus is born for us. He is our hope, our light, and the source of our life.
Let us worship Him.
All God’s people say….Amen.