Christmas: Light that Leads the Way
Pastor Rachel Billups | Isaiah 9:1-7
My husband Jon and I were kayaking in an abandoned limestone cave when our tour guide told us to turn off our headlamps.
It was so dark, I literally had to touch the end of my nose to fully believe my hand was there.
I COULD. NOT. SEE.
We sat in the darkness for only 5 minutes, but honestly, it felt like an eternity. I was ready to end the tour, get out of the water, and leave my kayak behind. What I didn’t know was that the cave’s exit, LIGHT, was just around the corner.
I imagine that’s exactly how God’s people felt nearly over 2000 years ago waiting to hear a word, a message, anything resembling the fulfillment of a promise from God.
“Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” (Isaiah 9: 1-2 NIV).
It’s was such a dark time for the people of God. A prophet, a messenger, hadn’t brought a message to God’s people for 400 years. That’s a long time to wait.
Prophesy is a weird egg; a prophet isn’t a psychic attempting to read the time and dates of one’s future. The whole purpose of a prophet is to turn a people’s attention back to God. But it’s not a chronological said and done.
“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.” (Isaiah 9: 6-7 NIV).
So it’s a both/and, a “happened already” and the full picture yet to come.
We know that Jesus was born 2000 years ago. But Jesus is also coming again.
Perhaps that explains a bit of the emptiness we feel from time to time. Darkness threatens to loom large and we doubt the very hand in front of our face.
We are not alone in our dark moments, and Christmas Eve is a good time to admit it’s been tough to see our way out.
You can usually choose one of two postures: Either you stay stuck, or we gut it out.
But I want you to notice something about what Isaiah is declaring here: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.” (Isaiah 9: 1-2 NIV).
Even when everything seems dark, light is coming! Life is confusing but light is coming! Your circumstances are hard, but light is coming! What’s in front of you is heavy, but light is coming. You’re exhausted by the uphill climb, but light is coming.
God will make a way.
The candles we light on Christmas Eve symbolize the light of Christ.
God has put the light of Christ in you and me. And one light can make all the difference.
But remember, it’s as the people walk that they see a great light. God’s people are on the move. They are walking forward, working life out, and they are not allowing the darkness to hold them back.
They lead the way in their families, speaking words of hope and life over those caught up in negativity.
They lead the way in their workplaces, encouraging others with the light they now possess.
They lead in the way at school, ensuring that no one eats alone in the cafeteria, or that no one is bullied for being different, that hope is alive.
People of the light step out in faith, willing to move forward in new ways.
I imagine on that very first Christmas, life had grown dark. In the absence of head lamps, streetlights, cell phones or candles a star was placed in the night sky, showing the way to the Christ child. God determined to break forth light, justice, mercy and peace in the weakness of a baby, a fragile and vulnerable human. It was a beautiful display of power and light–more than we’ve ever experienced. God become flesh and blood and moved into our neighborhood and the people walking in darkness have seen a great, wonderful, life-giving light that still promises to lead the way.
Senior Pastor | Ginghamsburg Church