The Wandering Desert Monk

The Wandering Desert Monk

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Hope in the Darkness

Advent I – Reflections for the First Sunday of Advent 2015

The season prior to the celebration of the birth of Jesus is called Advent in the church’s calendar of worship. The next four Sundays I will off some of my own reflections in the style of a reflection of a chosen text of Scripture.

This Sunday I will reflect on a text often used on the first Sunday of Advent: Isaiah 6:1-7.

Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he (God) 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—

What a message of hope! When people are caught up in a distressing time, they do not believe they will find any hope. Ever been searching for that lost precious item? We know the feeling of hopelessness. Into the despair of our world the Gospel comes with hope. Around us are people who are filled with the fears of terrorists. More terrifying than terrorists are the demons of depression and despair.

As a sign of the fulfillment of the prophesized hope, this passage is quoted by the author of Matthew’s Gospel (4:12-16) as he introduces the mission of Jesus.

The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.

Ever walked through a dark tunnel? You know the delight of seeing the light. The darkness in our world is called hatred, fear, pain, rejection, and depression. Into this darkness, God speaks hope. There is more to the darkness that we are seeing. The darkness does not contain the full story of our lives or our community.

You have enlarged the nation
    and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
    as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
    when dividing the plunder.

For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
    you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
    the bar across their shoulders,
    the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior’s boot used in battle
    and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
    will be fuel for the fire.

Darkness does not give up its prey easily or quickly. As I have worked with people trapped in the darkness of depression, many have used metaphors such as dark tunnels, dark clouds, prisons, closets to describe their darkness. Some have told me they actually have crawled into a closet in their darkest hours. The battle for light is intense and severe. As the bondage is broken the tools of imprisonment even become fuel for light out of the darkness.

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.

Where does this come from? Into this darkness a mere child is born who brings hope. He comes bearing titles representing healing to those who welcome him. For those broken-hearted he is the Wonderful Counselor; for the weak, he is the Mighty God; for the insecure, he is the Everlasting Father; and to the battle-weary he is the 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.

A life lost in the darkness of hopelessness is often a life marked by insecurity and confusion. Into this insecurity and confusion, God brings the experience of security and confidence. We can let hopelessness reign or we can allow God to reign. Many of my clients tell me that their faith in God is their rock in the midst of their bouts of darkness.

The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.

Who will bring about the Good News of hope? All around are those who would terrorize us. They would want us to collapse in fear. God is greater than your fears!

Ronald Friesen © 2015

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