Scripture Text: Isaiah 9:2-7 (Christmas Eve text)
2The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined. 3You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. 4For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. 5For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire. 6For 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. 7His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
I used to live in a neighborhood where I always passed this wonderful old French colonial house with wonderful verandas lining both floors of the house. For years, the house would outline the verandas with twinkling strings of lights during the Advent and Christmas seasons. It was beautiful. Then, for some reason I’ve never completely understood, they began to add more and more lights each year. They started by stringing lights across the verandas three, five, seven, fifteen times. Then, the next year, they did the same to the house. What was once a delightful twinkling of lights became what can only be described as a veritable blob of lights. The house had been overtaken by light. And it was no longer beautiful. In fact, it was a little off-putting.
So, the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. This journey toward the Light is coming to an end, so to speak. We know now that is does not actually end at all. It’s more of a turn, a tilt, a leaning in. But as we do that, we need to think about our time in the darkness. See, light is not pretty or comforting or even helpful alone. It’s blinding. You can’t even see anything anymore. Light is at its best when it illuminates the darkness and creates shadows and contrasts so that we can truly look at the Light.
Much of our lives, much of our existence is about traveling in darkness. It is a holy darkness. God created it. And then God created Light to push back the darkness. Now notice that it doesn’t say anywhere that the light is meant to dispel the darkness or cover up the darkness or in some way destroy the darkness into utter extinction. Darkness is. The Light is. They live together, woven into a holy mix of light and shadows and clouds and stars and deep darkness. That is life. That is Life. And that is where the people that walk there see the Light. So, our act of coming out of the darkness into the marvelous Light is not one of leaving but of looking in another direction and finally learning to travel in the dark. That’s called faith.
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.
It gets darker and darker…and then Jesus is born. (Ann Lamott)
Grace and Peace,