Isaiah 9: 2-7
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder.
For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
Surely we practise hope every Christmas, unless we think we’ve become disillusioned to the point we no longer believe there is any light at the end of the tunnel?
Every year I draw strength from this ancient prophecy. In a day when it’s tempting to ‘give up’ when the computer says ‘no’, or the bank doesn’t answer we need to re-frame our lives within a much bigger perspective. When we do this, we discover we’re here in the grand landscape of God’s purposes.
During this year I’ve spoken to people who’ve made my hope look pretty dim. A friend talking about his hope in God following the death of his wife, another facing death with a bright confidence and a certain hope, refugees who left their own country with nothing, but have returned having encountered the hope of Jesus Christ to share with their war-torn neighbours.
Some eight centuries before Jesus was born at Bethlehem hope was pretty dim, but there in the long tunnel, ‘walking in darkness’, hope is suddenly, and freshly injected:
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.
They lived in a land of shadows, but now light is shining on them.
So … just another eight centuries before Jesus is born, when God moves ‘into the neighbourhood’ 100%. Eight centuries is a long time to live in hope, but ‘living in hope’ is how we are called to walk.
Can I encourage you to write down where, in this passage, God has grabbed your attention the most? I’d suggest you this each day, but on this first day of Advent write down in relation to whatever they are for you today:
- What have I lost hope for from God?
- What am I hoping for from God?
We practice hope when we walk in the direction of the light we can see. That’s why when we look to see where to plant our next step, we need to keep our eyes on Jesus for only then shall we live out, oftentimes in darkness, what we have seen in the light.
I believe God wants to resurrect your hope; to bring any buried hopes out again into the open. Name them in God’s presence and may you begin to re-experience the joy of hope, yet to be realised this Advent.
Dear Lord, meet me in my hopelessness. Resurrect the hope I have lost and enable me, by the power of your Holy Spirit, to be infected again by your joy, which arises when hope is rooted in you and your ways.
In Jesus name. Amen.