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 on 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.
The wait is over. It’s Christmas morning. My 11-year-old legs race down the hallway and into the living room. The stockings, empty hours ago, are now bulging. I yell to my slumbering family, “It’s Christmas!”
Soon my two sisters and my parents join me in the living room. I am particularly eager. For months I’ve dropped hints for an X-Wing Fighter. The X-Wing is a small fighter of the Resistance against the Empire responsible for taking out the Death Star in the movie Star Wars.
My sister, who plays Santa, passes out gifts. She places a box on my lap. I rip open the wrapping paper. There it is, my X-Wing. For the next month all I did was fly it around the house, making swishing sounds and blaster noises at the dog.
Years later, I realize my desire wasn’t for a toy, but to participate in a bigger story where light overcomes the darkness; to find myself inside a story where darkness is defeated by a threat so small it goes unnoticed. In this way, the X-Wing may be responsible for preparing me for the real gift of Christmas.
Isaiah describes a world living in deep darkness, who receives the gift of an overwhelming light. This gift is a child born for us. He enters our darkness small and humble, yet with the power to penetrate the empire of darkness, and establishes a new reign of peace for all the world
Today, we recognize the name of this child as Jesus, who is the Christ. He is Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. Jesus is the gift of light shining the way forward for all living in the land of deep darkness. For he is not only the way, he is also our destination. Amen.
The Rev. Dr. Trygve D. Johnson is the Hinga Boersma Dean of the Chapel at Hope College.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.