Walk in the Light
Scripture: Isaiah 9:2-7
Title: Walk in the Light
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.
Saturday, December 16th.
On the screen of my phone, my sister’s photo popped up as the phone rang.
I picked up and said, “Hi.”
“Hello? Mr. Santa? Is this the North Pole?”
I looked at the caller id again, and yes, it is my sister.
“….Ummm…no, this is Mrs. Santa….”
“Hi, Mrs. Santa! This is Parker’s house and can you tell Parker that if he does not pick up his toys, then you will not send gifts for him this Christmas? (Whispering voice) Can you do your best Santa voice?”
“Ummm, I can’t do Santa’s voice – don’t put him on the phone yet…”
I can hear my three year old nephew’s voice in the background, “I see Auntie Yena’s picture on the phone.”
I hear my sister’s flustered voice, quickly coming back with, “Oh, that’s not Auntie Yena. It’s Mrs. Santa. Don’t look at the phone, just listen!”
I hear his little hesitant voice on the line, “Hello, is this Mrs. Santa?”
“Well, hello, Parker! This is Mrs. Santa…please listen to your mom and clean up and I will have Mr. Santa send you a gift for Christmas! Be a good little boy! Thank you! Merry Christmas!”
Don’t judge me. I know, you all have played your part in the Christmas bribery, threats and deceits. It’s okay. Sometimes, you do what you have to do to survive this season. Parents: You have one more night to milk this parental pass on bribery and threats, so make the best of it. Kids: Ask your parents if you can track Santa and his reindeers as he makes his way around the world tonight on santatracker.google.com!
The shepherds and the magi could have benefited from having a tracker to track Jesus’ arrival – wait they did! The Shepherds had the angels and the Magi had the Star guiding them to visit the new born babe. And the arrival of this baby changed everything.
You don’t have be a parent to know that the arrival of a child changes every-thing. Birthing and or receiving a child into your life changes everything. Priorities change as your vision for the world changes. You develop a different set of spider senses when a child is given to you. How you hear, see, and perceive the world and your brain processes the information – all of this changes. How you spend your time, money, and energy changes. A new child brings in-finite possibilities, along with love and hope, peppered with fear and joy alike. A child brings a ray of light into the life of those who love him/her.
Jesus Christ was this ray of light and hope for the people who walked in dark despair. Prophet Isaiah announces the arrival of this child, who will provide a different kind of authority – Wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting parent, ruler of peace, upholder of justice and righteousness.
When Isaiah made this declaration of the coming child, the nation of Judah was shrouded in the darkness of war and its aftermath. The people of Judah had not heard God’s message for some time and were overjoyed to hear this Good News of Light coming to illuminate their world. Rescue and recovery is coming. Comfort and Healing is coming. Deep love that produces joy is coming. Hope that accompanies peace is coming. The Divine wrapped in flesh is coming; not God who is above, watching from afar, but this God who hurts and weeps with us, sits and walks with us, rejoices and revisions with us – God Immanuel – God with us – is coming.
We, too, live in a world that is at war from various fronts. We fight the war on terror; war on opioid and other addictions; war against “isms” – agism, classism, elitism, racism, sexism; war against poverty and hunger. We fight wars without enemies, because we fight with differing political, ideological beliefs on how a country should be governed and how we treat people in the margins of our society, like transgendered folks, undocumented folks, so on and so forth. We, like the audience of the Prophet Isaiah, are in need of light to shine in our darkness. We need this Wonderful counselor, mighty God, ever-lasting parent, ruler of peace, upholder of justice and righteousness to turn us around.
God’s light to renew – reframe – reform all things, is entrusted in a vulnerable young couple. God is destabilizing our world (turning expectations upside down) by sending God’s own son as a fetus in a young woman’s body. As Mary’s water breaks, God is breaking the established understanding of power. As Jesus breathes his first breathe, God is breathing radical hope into the world. With Jesus’s first cry, God is declaring to the powers that be, that this babe will usher in God’s kingdom where “the first shall be last and the last shall be first.” As Jesus’s birth is announced to the shepherds, God is announcing the arrival of God’s light, light that drives out hate, fear, and false-sense of entitlement, light that celebrates unity and embraces diversity.
If we accept that Christ has come to us, if we accept that we have been given the gift of light and radical hope given in Jesus…then how does this hope re-shape our faith? How is the purpose of this community renewed by hope? How is your significant relationships reshaped by hope? How is your sense of vocation reframed by hope? How is your perspective reformed by hope?
For Christians, we gather to celebrate today, because this child helps us to walk in the light he bears, because this child
“6For 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. 7His 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.”
Each generation has its own darkness to fight and overcome. We each feel the burden of darkness cast by both personal and societal circumstances. We are engaged in battles with names like: anxiety, compassion fatigue, declining health, depression, estranged relationships, grief, infertility, job dissatisfaction, loneliness, mental and physical illnesses. Amazing grace is this, that all of us, even with all the battles we have to fight and our obstacles to overcome, we have been given the light of Christ. This baby born to us, his birth is bigger than any war we wage. His birth brings light that cannot be driven out or overshadowed by any darkness we face. His birth not only brings the light and hope, he is the light and hope for us. We are given opportunities to shine the light of Jesus Christ, to bring hope. People benefit from the light we carry and we benefit from the light of Christ others carry. When we recognize the light we carry in each other, whatever the path may be laden with, we will walk in Christ’s light together.
Mother Teresa said, ”If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” I would add, if we have no hope, it is because we have forgotten that the light of Christ has been shared with us to share with others. We have the light of Jesus Christ that will shine through any darkness, light that will give us hope, light that will lead us to each other and lead us to God’s path.
So, friends, let us praise God for the light God has placed in our life. Let us give thanks and walk confidently, knowing that we walk in the Light of Christ Jesus., whose light cannot be overshadowed by any circumstances of life. Amen.