It is remarkable how powerfully the beautiful song of Isaiah 9: 2-7 still speaks to believers of all generations. The princely prophet declares that people who once walked in darkness have seen a great light that has made all the difference in their lives. This light is good news for the nation, whose joy has been increased. In fact, the song compares this joy to the happiness his people experienced when gathering an exceedingly plenteous harvest or dividing plunder. This joy is the result of the lifting of burdens from God’s people. God has removed the yoke of the nation’s oppressors and the threat of slavery at the hands of powerful enemies. Now, there is no longer need for the instruments of war, which have become fuel for the fire.
Our enemies are less terrifying than Israel’s in the seventh century before Christ, but we too have faced powerful enemies this year. We have had a year filled with fear and anxiety because of COVID-19, a contentious political season, record unemployment, and retreat from places and activities we love (Church, families, friends, work, school, etc.) We too have seen deep darkness in our nation, as various events lifted the veneer of equal opportunity for all to reveal deep racism. Lastly, Social media has forced us to confront our uncivil behaviors towards those who think differently than us, and we are as polarized as we were during the Civil War.
The answer to our woes is the same as the answer to Israel’s woes during the time of the prophet. Isaiah announces that a child has been born to them, a son given, and this child makes all the difference. This child is called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace.” This child will establish a kingdom of righteousness that will last forever. “The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” This will be God’s will for this child who is himself a Mighty God.
I believe Jesus, the Messiah, is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophesy. He is truly the Prince of Peace, which means that his disciples are “messengers of peace.” We are ambassadors of our Mighty God and Everlasting Father. Because of this, we are called to live into an ethic of love and forgiveness. We are instruments of God’s redeeming love for humanity. What this means is that a more equitable world begins with us and the choices we make. Peace is something we pray for and something for which we must work. Much darkness is advanced by lukewarm Christians. And yet, in a very real way, the baby born on Christmas day came to wake us up from our slumber and to lead us into the light of justice, compassion, love of other, and service of God.
This baby makes all the difference, and he has come at the right time in our history. Let us welcome him into our hearts and let us rejoice at the fact that God has not left us orphaned. God has sent us his Son to lead us the rest of the way, until we are reunited with him and those who came before us. This is great news for us, but it will only become good news for the world if we embrace and hold fast to the vows we made at our baptism.
Merry Christmas and may our Lord and Savior continue to bless you,