Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota
Environmental Stewardship Commission
Lectionary Reflection
All Years, Christmas Day I, Old Testament Lesson

Isaiah 9: 2-4, 6-7:
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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
Reflection on Isaiah 9: 2-4: by the Rev John Gibbs If you light a candle under a floodlight, who cares? Where there already is a great light, who needs a flashlight, who wants a flickering wick of new light? Where Christmas has grown old, where the familiar rhythm of Christmas texts lulls people to sleep, where the light is taken for granted and there is no more great drama of faith there can any new thing happen, could a new light be seen if it came, would the birth of new life be possible? On the other hand, "those who lived in a land of deep darkness" are specially prepared to "see" whatever light may seek them out. Christmas is a terrible time of "deep darkness" for many people who live alone, for they are outside the cozy combination of faith and family that seems to own Christmas. A divorced parent who also lives far from brother or sister or from father or mother, that person torn away from family knows all about walking in darkness. Especially for that person the Christmas candle was lit and shines. Nobody owns Christmas, not families, not people of faith. And nobody is disowned by Christmas, not the lonely, not people of doubt and alienation. We all have darkness within us, which means that we all have potential to "see" that "endless peace" (9:7) with "justice and with righteousness" (9:7) that the Lord of the Universe has established as the order of our life. The surprise of the Incarnation is the light it sheds on the whole landscape of our common life: "the way of the sea" and "the land beyond" wherever we are (9:1) are all "made glorious" simply because "a child as been born for us, a son given to us" (9:6). We all find ourselves caught up with that One Great People who "rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest" (9:3). Here is the Light that redefines "family," and reshapes our vision of what it means to belong to one another within the People of God.

The Rev. John Gibbs, a retired theologan, attends Trinity Episcopal Church, Park Rapids, MN. He originally wrote this reflection in 1998. He and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to John Gibbs or any MEESC member, or mail them to:

Environmental Stewardship Commission (MEESC) Holy Trinity Church Box 65 Elk River, MN 55330-0065 USA

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