Seven hundred years before Christmas, the Prophet Isaiah wrote, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” (Isaiah 9:2) And our hearts leap at his words, because we know that darkness– have lived and worked here all our days, pushing back against it to build a life here for the people we love. Some days we feel like we are actually gaining ground in making the world a better place. And we string up the lights at Christmas, and make as much joy as we can for one another in the strength of that hope, and wouldn’t it be wonderful if there really were an ending to the long night, a light as certain and overwhelming as the dawn? And right here in the bright bustle of the holiday season, all our dreams and fears intersect. We are decking our halls and making merry with gift-giving, but our hearts long to hear the old familiar tale of a baby in a manger and shepherds under the stars. Remember, it whispers, a light has dawned.
So we light our small candles in the dark tonight, and remind ourselves of the true message of Christmas: that we are not alone in the dark. We have a Savior and He has come to us, and a new age has dawned. Isaiah knew the names we would call Him, long before He was born: “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) But his mother called Him Jesus, “because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) We could never have guessed it would happen this way, this mystery of God’s grace that lights our darkness. As one contemporary writer puts it: “Our God who breathes stars in the dark– He breathes Bethlehem’s star, then takes on lungs and breathes in stable air. We are saved from hopelessness, because God came with infant fists and opened wide His hand to take the iron-sharp edge of our sins.” (Ann VosKamp)
Isaiah exults in the dawning glory of God over a land struggling in chaos and injustice. “For unto us a Child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders.” (Isaiah 9:6) And we rejoice in this at Christmas, because we have seen Jesus, and the way He lived and died for us here. His friend John wrote, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5) This is the best gift, this promise of a happy ending, and life that does not end with the here and now. The Light of the World is here with us, and the darkness cannot extinguish it, no matter how grim the world may seem, at times. If Light was dawning on the world on that first Christmas when Jesus came, it will blaze like lightning when He finally comes to set everything right.
So tonight we hold our candles in expectation and we sing, looking forward to the day when His radiant dawning light wipes out all the darkness everywhere, forever. This is the hope of Advent, whispering in our hearts: He has come for us; He is coming again for us. And the angels sing it back to us in the Christmas sky, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)
A child has been given,We Have A Savior, Hillsong
The King of our freedom;
Sing for the light has come!
This is Christmas.
Come and adore Him,
And bring gifts before Him;
Joy to the world,
Worship the Son!
This is Christmas.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”Revelation 21:3-5