Only those in darkness can see a great light.
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined. (Isaiah 9:2-)
Only those who are burdened, who have felt the bar and the rod, who have been oppressed, can rejoice.
For the yoke of their burden,
and the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
Only those who have felt the boots, the tramping, whose garments have been bloodied can rejoice in the burning of warriors’ boots.
For all the boots of the tramping warriors
and all the garments rolled in blood
shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
And at what news do those in darkness rejoice?
For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
But what if we are the ones who have created that very darkness? What if we are the ones who placed the bar and rod on others? What if we are the ones whose boots trampled down those living under our oppression?
Rome and Herod did not receive the news of Christ’s coming with joy. Empires are the very ones who place bar and rod, who trample down the weak, who become preoccupied with their own power and supremacy. They fear all rivals.
How will we as Christians who reside in America receive and participate in Advent this year—both individually and as part of a modern nation? And not just any nation, but one which has far surpassed any empire in history as to military power, economic might and influence.
Only those in darkness (In this context, meaning oppression by an empire or political power) can truly see a great light, the light of Christ.
We light candles for Advent. Let’s light them for the children in cages, and those in exile. Let’s light them for the stranger, the foreigner among us who is mistreated. Let’s light them for the poor and hungry in the midst of our great wealth. Let’s light them for a creation under siege by us. Let’s light them for those suffering in wars, wars too often caused or allowed by the empire of which we are a part.
Let’s light them for ourselves, that during this season of Advent, we might be on the side of those living in darkness—especially if we had a part in creating it. Our prayers though, which should be our actions, must be to alleviate any suffering we have caused whether individually or corporately. Otherwise, we are just lighting candles and the darkness remains.
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