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 all the boots of the tramping warriors
and all the garments rolled in blood
shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
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.
Darkness. Isaiah speaks of people walking and living in a deep darkness. We have all been in this darkness at some point in the last year and a half. Whether it is a physical, mental, or spiritual darkness, we have all experienced it during this pandemic. We are exhausted, we are ready to be free of this virus and go back to our normal lives, or what we hope to call “normal.” Many have already tried to move in this direction despite the virus taking lives every day in our nation. We are all ready to see an end to this long, dark tunnel, hoping there is something more promising on the other side.
In this scripture, Isaiah shares good news with us. For Christians, Isaiah’s word foreshadows the day when Jesus is born, Son of God, the light that shines in the darkness. He is born and with his birth comes hope and peace. He is the light at the end of the tunnel and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. We know that there is darkness throughout our lives, but through faith, we can be led out of this darkness and into the light. Jesus brings us hope when we feel lost, comfort when we feel grief, love when we feel contempt, and peace when we feel pain. This Christmas day, we look to the light and strive to live as instruments of hope and peace in this world for ourselves and for others.
While Christmas can be a joyful occasion, it can also be a time of grief and loneliness. This Christmas will be harder for some of us because of the loved ones we lost to COVID. We have experienced shared grief and trauma in this season. Yet, Christmas reminds us that “God is with us” even during such times. Christmas can also be a time where many are districted by consumerism and gifts that cause us to forget what this day is all about. It can also be a time of great peace and spirituality. As we rejoice in the birth of Jesus, we must also reflect on what is to come after the gifts have been opened and the trees have been taken down. We must ask ourselves the question: how can be instruments of hope and peace in our world from this day forward?