All Years, Christmas Day I, Old Testament Lesson
Church in Minnesota
Isaiah 9: 2-4, 6-7:
|The people who walked in darkness
seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of
deep darkness –
them light has shined.
You have multiplied the nation,
have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
with joy at the harvest,
people exult when dividing plunder.
For the yoke of their burden,
the bar across their shoulders,
rod of their oppressor,
have broken as on the day of Midian.
|For a child has been born for
given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty
Father, Prince of Peace.
His authority shall grow continually,
there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and
will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
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
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
John G. Gibbs, PhD, a retired theologian, 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:
c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA
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