Light Breaks In
I have a confession to make…I’ve always been a little ‘bah humbug’ about Christmas. (Please don’t stone me next time you see me!) I manage to put out a few extra candles and fairy lights and have a nativity scene that fits in a matchbox, but I’ve never had a Christmas tree since leaving home twenty-five years ago. It’s not just the consumerism; I’ve even struggled with the Christian bit. I’ve tried to do advent devotionals, but have never been stirred by them.
And yet I was excited to be asked to speak on the first Sunday in advent. There’s something about the book of Isaiah and its prophecies about the coming Messiah that grips me. When Isaiah spoke of the child who would be king, he didn’t see the gap between the first and second coming of that king – the time we are living in right now. Looking back at Jesus’ birth and his first coming is great, but it’s only half the story. Throughout church history, the season of Advent has been about looking forward as well as looking back. I think that’s where I’ve been going wrong all these years. I’ve spent too much time looking at the child in the manger and not focusing enough on the king and his kingdom.
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks digging into Isaiah 9:1-7, our passage for Sunday. Isaiah tells us that ‘the people walking in darkness have seen a great light’ (verse 2). Who were these people? What was causing the darkness, and in what way did they see light? And importantly, how can this prophecy about the child born to be king encourage us in the darkness of a global pandemic? If there was ever a season where a bit more light was needed, surely it’s now?
And it’s been working! As I’ve reflected on, researched, and prayed through this passage, I’ve seen a fresh glimpse of the light, and it’s been strengthening me on the inside. So my questions for us to be considering as we approach Sunday are as follows:
- How brightly is the light of the coming king shining into your darkness just now?
- How might you help it shine a little brighter?
I hope and pray that reflecting on Isaiah 9 this weekend will increase the light for all of us.
Lynne is Head of Prayer Mobilisation for Tearfund and a member of QP