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.
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I know that many of you, right now, are groaning. Here is a text from the prophet Isaiah that we normally have, and frankly will have, on Christmas Eve. Already you walk into almost every store and Christmas stuff is everywhere and Thanksgiving is still 11 days away! Why are we having this reading now? It seems way too early and out of place.
Well, we are in the midst of going through the prophets in our Narrative Lectionary and this is our spot for Isaiah. Last week, we heard about justice and righteousness in our reading from Amos and we hear it again today in Isaiah. This justice and righteousness comes, not from us, but from God, most specifically, the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace talked about in this passage. He is one whom we identify as Jesus Christ, our savior, who breaks up our burdens, conquers our oppression, and lifts us out of darkness and into light.
And that is the key. We are the people who walk in darkness, and not just because our clocks are back and it gets dark a lot earlier than before. We walk in darkness because we walk with grief on our hearts. We walk with anxiety. We walk with depression . We walk worry. We walk through the valley of the shadow of death. We walk in a world torn apart by violence, separated by ideology, ravaged by inequality. We walk in the midst of broken marriages, betrayed relationships, family conflict, and workplace drama. We walk in darkness and feel as if we might get swallowed whole.
But then we hear these words of Isaiah and we hear the words of Jesus, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” And because we have the light of the world, we can walk not in darkness but in light, knowing that Christ takes our burdens with him on the cross, takes our worry, our depression, and all the things that weigh us down and lift them off our shoulders. He brings us peace and comfort, joy and hope, and light to make our way through the darkness.
We need to be reminded of this every day. No matter what darkness threatens to destroy your light, to snuff you out, the great light of Christ is there to shine on you. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will always, always, shine light on you. Embrace it. Rejoice in it. Trust in it, for it is always there for you no matter what season it is.
May Christ always be our light, and for that may we say, “Thanks be to God!” Amen