All of us experience darkness at some time in our lives. One of my moments stands stark in my memory. My wife of sixty-one years died May 17, 2018, after a long walk deep into the forest of dementia. Watching the light of life go out in a loved one’s life is what the psalmist called “the valley of the shadow of death” (Ps. 23:4, kjv).
Second Isaiah has watched Jerusalem, his beloved city, be destroyed by its enemies. At times he has delivered stern warnings to his people for their failings. But in grand poems he celebrates the glory of Jerusalem and God’s people. (See Isaiah 60:1–62:12.) “Arise, shine”; the prophet exclaims, “for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” Turned in on their own miseries, people who have watched their city torn down and have been carried away into captivity may find such words hard to comprehend. Darkness has swallowed up their hopes and dreams. The prophet recognizes their suffering. Darkness envelops the earth and its peoples.
Such depictions accurately define what we see happening today in our world, where we witness nations torn apart by war, schools decimated by weapons of mass destruction, and more refugees than at any period in history except World War II. In such circumstances, dare we believe that the Lord will arise upon us? Yes, we dare! How could we face such happenings with any other confidence than that God is our light and our hope? When the light of God illumines us, it may shock us to find that other people may make their way to the brightness of our dawn.
O God, may we not fear as we pass through life’s dark vales. Rather, may your light so shine in us and through us that others may see the dawn. Amen.
Read Isaiah 42:1-9. What does it mean for Jesus to be a Servant Messiah? In what ways does God suffer with or for you?
Read Psalm 72:1-7, 10-14. As children of God, we are called to reflect God’s righteousness. How do you defend the poor and deliver the needy?
Read Acts 10:34-43. Consider the author’s proposal that those who fear God and do what is right may include people of other faiths. What would this mean for your faith and your relationships with those of other faiths?
Read Matthew 3:13-17. Remember your baptism. Did you make the decision to be baptized or did someone else make the decision for you? How does remembering your baptism guide you to do what God wants?
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