Thanks to my half elf of a wife we have had Christmas music piping in our attic since the temperature dipped below 60 degrees- back at the end of October… (not exaggerating). I think it’s because both of us are used to celebrating a brisk 55 degree Christmas for most of our life so we associate anything in the 50’s with the dead of winter. This has given me ample time to think about Christmas this year, and I’ve been thinking about it through the big picture “God Story” lens.
I started in Isaiah 8, which is the chapter before Isaiah’s famous prophecy of the birth of a King. Chapter 8 is pretty dismal and ends like this (Message version):
“Frustrated and famished they try one thing after another. When nothing works out they get angry, cursing first this god and then that one, looking this way and that, up, down, and sideways- and seeing nothing, a blank wall, and empty hole. They end up in the dark with nothing.”
As I read this I began to really feel the weight of what was happening. God had pursued Israel for generations and generations, he sent kings and prophets, blessing and curses trying to get their attention. Then the “Great Silence” came and there was nothing for 400 years (400 years ago North American was barely settled by Europeans. The Globe theater burned down in 1613…just to give you some perspective). No prophets, no Word of the Lord. Just silence, distress, darkness, and a “fearful gloom” (NIV). The tension was growing and nearly unbearable. The longing and desire was escalating by the year, and people were crying out in their heart “Where is the God of our fathers?” Can you feel the tension? Can you feel the darkness closing in on the hearts of Israel?
Where is the tension and darkness in your own heart? Where has the pressure been building and ready to blow, like a teapot about to whistle?
It was into this darkness and despair that Isaiah Chapter 9 was brilliantly fulfilled:
“Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress…The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned…For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders… For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.”
Light. Oh glorious light that came at the most hopeless moment in the darkest night! And “The light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not overcome it.” A child is born. A son is given. Light is a man and his name is Jesus! That is good news of great joy!
This Christmas allow a microcosm of the big story happen in your own life. Allow Light to meet you in your darkest night. Let Jesus do what He loves to do, and bring hope and light in the midst of pressure and struggle and tension- not in a “feel-good positive thoughts” kind of way, but in the very real and tangible way that is more befitting of the all powerful God of the Universe.
*Part of the curriculum in the Vision Course is what they call the “God Story.” It’s essentially an overview of the Biblical narrative from Genesis to Revelation with an emphasis on seeing it as big huge story that God has been telling since the creation of time. There are themes, motifs, conflict, drama, miracles at every turn, and I (Luke) have been getting swept up in the beauty of this narrative.