Friday, December 9, 2011
The 9th chapter of Isaiah is remembered because it has within words that have been sung more times than anyone could ever count. We have all heard choirs singing, "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace..." Reading the words causes us to hear that magnificent chorus in our hearts. But, this particular chapter of Isaiah is about more than just music during the Christmas season. It is about hope.
The Hebrew people were in exile in Babylon. The sun still rose over them each day, but the land in which they dwelled was a strange land filled with strange words and strange people. Jerusalem was home and it was far away. No one really had any expectation of seeing the land of Abraham again. In this setting Isaiah speaks for God, "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness--on them has light shined...For a child has been for us, a son given to us." (Isaiah 9:2, 6) It is the language of hope. Light has penetrated the darkness. A child has been born. Something new is beginning to happen. Look and see.
It is a message every generation longs to hear. Common to every generation of people are those experiences which seem to overcome optimism and take away hope. Those moments come in a host of different ways. We are all touched by them. We have all been ready to succumb to the darkness. Isaiah's words remind us that darkness is not permanent. Not even the deep darkness imposed upon us by our own wrong choices can stand against the light of God's grace and mercy made known to us through the Christ who was born in our midst. Thanks be to God for the hope He has planted in our hearts.