Isaiah 9:2 – The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
When I think of Advent, one of the strongest images I have is that of light shining into a dark place. A friend remarked on Facebook that the next weeks are the darkest time of the year, and that she doesn’t like that. At this time of year when daylight and sunshine seem scarce, the seasonal changes seem like an extended metaphor for Advent. We long for the light; for the susnhine, and when it shines, as it did today a few times, it is so welcome. That has got to be one of the reasons why Advent is celebrated / observed at this time of year.
I read in Isaiah 9:2-7 “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” This is more than a lack of solar radiation. Advent is not just suffering for those of us who cannot make it to Hawaii. Many people are living in ‘deep darkness’. Situations and circumstances seem utterly hopeless. In Advent we celebrate the birth of Jesus as the light shining into the darkness of this world. The writer of Matthew, in the New Testament quotes 9:1-2 in Matthew 4:12-17 when Jesus begins his preaching ministry. In John 1:5 we read that the “light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Jesus’ light is not absorbed by the darkness – it extinguishes the darkness.
This is a poem that I wrote for Advent in 2009. I posted it last Lent, on April 2, 2012. Sorry for the rerun, but it fits right now.
When we sat in darkness,
You came to us in light.
When we lived in helplessness,
You came to us at night.
Yet you were not what we expected.
We had hoped for something else.
God, you came to us the unexpected saviour.
We waited for a warrior;
You came the Prince Of Peace
We sought a mighty power
Which would set our captives free.
You are not what we’d expected;
Helpless babe in young girl’s arms
Lord, you came to us an unexpected saviour.
We sought an end to poverty
You preached to us good news
We wanted vindication
Forgive me if I seem confused.
You are not what I expected
I had prayed for something else
You came to me an unexpected saviour.
Jesus, yes an unexpected saviour.
I long for ease and comfort
You expose my naked soul
And the life I’ve built so carefully
Tear down to make me whole.
You upset my money tables,
Drive my demons into pigs
You are not what I’d expected in a saviour.
Jesus, Heavenly Father,
Holy Spirit, Lord of Lords,
My dreams and hopes and wishes
Are idols I can ill afford.
Come to me so unexpected
Take my rags, but make me yours.
I welcome you Lord Jesus, unexpected Saviour!
JM November 2009
December 1 2012
Here begins Advent – a time between – between Autumn and Winter, Thanksgiving and Christmas, between not yet here and already come.
I also think of Advent as sort of the Winter Lent.
As a kid, Advent meant that we opened small doors on a glitter-infested picture, called an advent calendar. It was a formalized countdown to Christmas. For me it served to build excitement and anticipation for the eventual arrival of Christmas.
For me, Advent means that it is a legitimate time of the year to bring out Christmas carols. But not before we sing a few Advent hymns.
The hymn by Charles Wesley, which we sing to a couple of wonderful old hymn tunes; Stuttgart and Hyfrydol . Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus has a verse reminding us of the long anticipation of waiting for the Messiah and one that looks forward to the end – when Jesus finishes our rescue, and we are home with him.
Come, thou long expected Jesus
1. Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.
2. Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.
I have difficulty in getting into the spirit of waiting for Jesus to be born. Here’s why:
- I know that Jesus was born – amazing! that the Creator, The One who created the world, would limit and wrap himself in created flesh in order to make himself known to his rebellious people.
- I know of his life on earth and his execution and burial.
- I know that after that, he appeared to many people alive.
- I know that some 40 days later, he went up from the earth and disappeared into clouds. The people who were there were told that he would come back in a similar fashion, someday.
- I know that Jesus is alive and ruling, and that his work is finished, and that he is still is working through his Holy Spirit and people who listen to him.
- And I know that he is planning to come back to earth and gather us up and take us home to be with him.
– and I know that to people who don’t know Jesus, all that sounds pretty weird….
So in Advent, what are we anticipating? What’s the deal?
For what, or for whom are we waiting?
Is there something that you want Jesus to do?
Is there something that Jesus is saying to you?
Is there something that seems hard to believe?
I suggest that we stop and think about those things, and pray – talk to Jesus. Here is how you do that: “Jesus, is there something that you want to say to me?” or “Jesus, I find _______ hard to believe.” or just talk with him. He doesn’t need us to have everything figured out – or to have all the right words.