First of all, to the wonderful folks who follow this blog, I apologize for not having been writing lately. The holidays have been beating up on me pretty good and between snow storms and church activities I've been focused elsewhere.
So.....this week is the 4th Sunday of Advent. And the scriptures I'm using are Isaiah 9:2-7 and John 1:1-9. Both of these passages have to do with light. Not just light, but Light.....LIGHT....the LIGHT.
At our Quest Service last Sunday evening, we turned off all the lights and began asking the question, "what do you think about when you think of darkness?" Interestingly, no one said "sin." Then answers were things like "confusion," "fear," and "stumbling." These things, in fact, give flesh to the ideas of "those who walk in darkness have seen a great light."
The things that cause use to 'mess up' in our lives are most frequently things like confusion and fear. When we 'walk in fear' we are likely to then engage in the sins or the 'messed upness' of bigotry or disobedience or violence or oppression of people we think aren't enough like us.
Look at how Isaiah lays this out:
"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."
Now look what happens because of this:
"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." The "day of Midian" is a reference to Gideon and the defeat of the Midianites by the army he lead. So oppression will end.
"For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire." This is an end to violence; particularly military violence. There's going to be this huge bonfire, says Isaiah, and all the uniforms ("garments rolled in blood") and the marching boots...in to the fire they'll go. The Third Reich burned books to kill ideas; the coming of the Messiah will mean the burning of the signs of violence because they're no longer needed. All those folks; privates to generals rolling their uniforms, medals and all, into a bundle around their combat boots and chunking them into the fire.
Why? Because the Light has come on! And in that Light, they-and we-see clearly. No more running into walls in the darkness. No more stumbling toward the bathroom at 2 a.m. in the dark cause the power is out and nearly landing in the toilet. The Light is on and we can see.
"In Him was Life, and that Life was the Light of all people. And the Light shines on in the darkness and the darkness can never conquer it."
The life of Jesus and the life given in His death and resurrection join together to give us a Great Light. Now we can see, we can See, we can really, really SEE. And the darkness cannot ever put that Light out. It's here to stay. Forever. Til the time described in Revelation when heaven and earth are joined and there is not need of any other light because the Light makes a home among God's people.
What do we do with that? According to Isaiah, there's pretty much only one thing we can do:
"Arise, shine, for thy light has come; and the Glory of the Lord is risen upon thee." (Isaiah 60:1)
Shalom and Merry Christmas