Advent readings are something we do each year.
It is a devotional that is created by members of our congregation and read each Sunday during the advent season.
They will pass through the land, greatly distressed and hungry. And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into thick darkness.
But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined.
John 1:1-5, 9-10, 14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
In the dark, we cannot see things for what they are. Where eyes prove worthless, we believe our fears, and these become more true to us than what we knew in the light. Every sound seems sinister and every shadow morphs into some monster. When the world around us becomes a threat, we define things according to the fear that fills us. In darkness, our misguided definitions become our safety.
Isaiah tells us that the people were walking in darkness.
John, in his gospel, tells us that they did not know it.
Fearful hearts and useless eyes darkened their understanding and they could not see. They needed light, not outside of them, but in them.
Isaiah called them to rejoice because a GREAT light would come!
John tells us that the light HAS come, by way of Galilee of the Gentiles, born in obscurity to a poor virgin just as God promised. Jesus, coming into the world, pierced the gloom of anguish, and the darkness would not overcome the light of life. Not even the darkness within us.
But John tells us the world still could not see.
They needed new eyes and new hearts and new minds. But then some were born again with eyes and hearts and minds changed and opened. They were filled with light and their witness shines through the generations.
Advent is a time of hopeful waiting in the midst of fear and darkness. To the fearful, God promises light. To the distressed, God gives hope. To those in anguish, God holds out comfort. Do not fear, little flock. The light may seem dim now, but the fullness of light has yet to be revealed. Jesus will come for us, a light brighter than seven suns! Then all that we have seen dimly will be revealed.
God, you said in the beginning, “Let light shine out of darkness;”
Even now, shine in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of your glory in the face of Jesus Christ.
Our vision of the great light that came into the world seems dim.
Open our eyes, renew our hearts, transform our minds. As we wait, fill us with light that we might see things for what they are.