Thanks to Mere O contributor John Shelton, we have a series of Christmas reflections to share over the 12 days of Christmas. Today’s reflection comes from Ali Kjergaard.
But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.
You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil. For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as son the day of Midian. For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult and every garment rolled in blood will be burned as fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. Isa. 9.1-7
The Light Turning On
By Ali Kjergaard
The words “gloom” and “anguish” in that first sentence hold weight, ringing to mind the image of “walking in darkness”. It’s those times where we allow ourselves to stumble about in a dark room, too lethargic or indifferent to find the light switch, allowing our eyes to adjust to the darkness that surrounds us. Christmas Day is the “light switch” moment to the Advent season.
But it’s not Christ flipping the switch from a distance, it is The Light coming to dwell among us. This passage tells us what it is like when “the light shineth in the darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:5). Yokes and rods of oppression are broken, gloom leaves, and the rightful king at last reigns. Christmas day is a day of increased joy; the waiting is at an end.
In his 1933 Advent sermon, Dietrich Bonhoeffer provides the fitting image of a miner trapped underground, awaiting rescue, and then at last glimpsing beams of light:
But suddenly a noise that sounds like tapping and breaking in the rock can be heard… the disheartened miner picks himself up, his heart leaps, he shouts ‘Here I am, come on through and help me! I’ll hold until you come! Just come soon!’ A final, desperate hammer blow to his ear, now the rescue is near, just one more step and he is free… That is how it is with the coming of Christ: ‘Look up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.’
The child that was born to us in a manger was the light breaking through, revealing that redemption is near. And like the trapped miner and the nation of Israel, our hearts leap and our joy is increased. Today we rejoice that the Lord of hosts has done just as He said.
A Collect for Christmas
Almighty God, you have given your only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and to be born this day of a pure virgin: Grant that we, who have been born again and made your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by your Holy Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.