The people walking in darkness have seen a great light. On those living in a pitch-dark land, light has dawned. – Isaiah 9:2
In all the sweetness of Christmas, which we should enjoy, we should also remember what an incredibly powerful statement the birth of Christ makes.
When Isaiah used the phrase “pitch-dark land,” he had in mind Psalm 23’s “valley of the shadow of death.” In his time, that death-darkness was characterized by indescribably cruel violence. The people lived in fear of invading armies. They also lived in fear of the powerful within their own country, who would sell the “innocent for silver, and those in need for a pair of sandals” (Amos 2:6).
Sending Jesus into such a world was God’s social justice statement. God wouldn’t sit still and see humanity destroy itself. How else but to take on flesh and embody the Way: equality, respect, mercy, justice, empowerment for all people? How else but to embody non-violent resistance and a prayer of forgiveness for those nailing people to crosses?
God had this world in mind in arranging the nativity. Heaven is nice, but Jesus’ duty is to bring heaven to earth. He came to show us how.
Every time we read about shepherds, angels, and wise men, we should also read about the hungry, sick, and marginalized. He came to shine light on them. Any who honor Jesus must honor the “least of these,” those he claims as his family (Matthew 25:40).
I love Christmas Eve services when they end with candlelight being passed around the congregation while singing “Silent Night.” The light has entered the world, with the mission of driving out the darkness.
Our greatest gift is to help Jesus bring heaven down to earth. How will we reflect his light? Who are the least of his brothers and sisters?