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 NIV
Isaiah’s words prophesying the birth of Jesus brought hope to those who lived at his time as well as ours. But what does it mean to be a people walking in darkness? Do we walk in darkness too? Spiritually speaking yes, we do, until we accept Christ’s offer of forgiveness. But also we can have dark times in our lives when we cannot seem to see the way out. We are looking for answers to free us from our depression, anxiety and stress. We see the world around us as a very dark place full of injustice and heartache and even grief. Grief is especially difficult to process at Christmas time. It can appear so dark.
Or perhaps it seems as if God is far off and silent. That’s how many of the Israelites felt during the four hundred years of silence between what we now have as our Old and New Testaments.
During that time there were no prophets or people being filled with the Holy Spirit to speak God’s message until the angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah, Mary, and Joseph. Their darkness was about to end and God was breaking forth the light. Mary and Elizabeth would have the Holy Spirit come upon them and the silence would be broken.
I wonder what I would have thought if I lived at that time in Bethlehem or Nazareth? Last night my husband and I visited a local church’s drive though nativity. Scenes depicting the birth of Jesus are recreated, complete with the marketplaces, King Herod’s temple, the inn with no room, the stable where Jesus was born and the gate of the city guarded with Roman soldiers. You are completely transported back in time. As we drove through, we rolled the windows down and listened to the conversations between the people. Herod was scolding the people, the carpenter was sanding a piece of wood, the blacksmith forging the iron, the women in the market trying to sell us their wares, the Roman soldiers sitting on their horses, looking suspiciously over us and our car, the shepherds watching the sheep eat the hay, the young Mary and Joseph begging the innkeeper to give them a room for a trade of a loaf of bread. Although some of the conversation followed the Bible story as we have heard it many times before, many of the actors improvised. I liked this improvisation. The women were gossiping around the town well, and the craftsmen telling each other to travel safely. It was what it probably sounded like back in the day. People will spread rumors and talk about politics and business, no matter what time frame. People are the same.
So, what do you think it would have been like? Rumors about a rushed marriage and miraculous birth. A king who would be sought after by wise men following a star? Shepherds seeing angels? People living under the oppression of the Roman government in a violent time? A difficult life of work and never enough money for most of it went to the tax collectors. Religious rulers working in conjunction with the Roman rulers to increase the burden on the people. Making up new rules that must be followed. Yeah. A dark time. It was good news of great joy, when they heard about Jesus. Light breaking into the darkness.
As we get ready for Christmas, let us think past all of the preparations, past the shopping, past the food prep, past the sadness when we think of the loved ones who won’t be around the table this Christmas. Let’s look for the light breaking into this world’s darkness. Remember, Jesus came once as a little baby in a humble stable, but He is coming back again. Breaking into the darkness of this world. But next time He won’t be a baby, but a a triumphant King. That is truly good news of great joy! -God Bless – Nancy