Friday, December 19, 2014

Seeing a great light

Isaiah 9:1  But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. 2  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. 3  You 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. 4  For 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. 5  For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire. 6  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. 7  His 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.

In 580BC Nebuchadnezzar II imposed his rule on the children of Israel by conquest. Their leaders were taken off to Babylon, while the peasants stayed behind to produce crops for their new rulers. The poor worked the land to make Babylon wealthy – and prayed for God to rescue them from their corrupt rulers.
The Prophet Isaiah responds by assuring the children of Israel that God has not forgotten them. He says that the day will come when a ruler will emerge to lift the burden of the oppressed and bring those in darkness into the light... and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom” ..

The above passage has various interpretations: Jewish belief holds that this refers to past events, specifically the birth and reign of King Hezekiah. [1]  Christian interpretation holds that this passage points to the coming of Jesus, who will bring peace, justice and righteousness. The difficulty with these interpretations lies with agency: the essential question is whether we wait for God to “drop in” and rescue us – or whether we hear the call of God to become his partners in bringing light to a dark world.  

This Christmas challenges us afresh: are we willing to be part of the plan of God to bring light to our world, or will we exist in the darkness? Put differently – will we continue to complain about corrupt, self-serving leaders and immoral and faithless individuals, or will we become part of establishing the kingdom values of as taught by Jesus.

The choice is yours.
Fourth Sunday in Advent
4.  God is with us
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 32.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.


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