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Isaiah 9:2-7

Praise in the Darkness:

A friend forwarded me a YouTube video they thought I should watch. I am a sucker for a good story played out before my eyes so, trusting my friend, I opened the video and saw a routine day at the mall. The food court was packed with holiday shoppers taking a break from searching for those perfect gifts to be given to friends and family. Young and old alike, people found themselves in the routine of the holidays. What catches my attention every time I watch this video (it has become a favorite that I have to watch a few times every year) is the seeming lack of expectation. Until … an organ pierces the chatter and eyes begin looking around, heads turn and people seem to realize that something out of the ordinary is happening. A young lady stands to her feet and begins to sing Handel’s Messiah. She is quickly joined by a host of other young people who have gathered for a flash mob in the food court. Before the video is done, young and old alike have stood to their feet and have joined in a song that seems to has elicited something within them that was waiting to be called forth. The routine din of another holiday spent in the mall is replaced by a corporate proclamation of a King of kings and Lord of lords that transforms shoppers into heralds. By the end of the video, following that dramatic pause in the chorus that is so pregnant with anticipation, everyone is on their feet with hands raised.

The words sung in this video find their beginning in one of Isaiah’s great proclamations that speaks of a child being born who brings with him an authority that transforms the routine of a four-hundred-year span of silence from God into a joyous celebration that was waiting to be called forth from a people who had become desensitized by the darkness in which they lived. Even though they may have become resigned to the reality around them, there was a spark of light that was ready to emerge … it was waiting to emerge.

In Isaiah 9:2-7, the first four verses paint a dismal picture of darkness, oppression, and war that had become the order of the day. In spite of this, Isaiah alludes to a light that entered into this order and had turned darkness into light, oppression into justice, and war into peace. This transformation came in the form of a baby; a most unexpected answer to a deep seated longing. Check out this site It may have been that people had lost the sense of what they actually needed. In our darkest moments we may be open to anything but are we that people who understands a Wonderful Counselor, a Mighty God, and Everlasting Father, a Prince of Peace who has done something about darkness, oppression and war and continues to have something to say about these?

As I write this, there are less than twenty-four hours before, what some believe is the most significant general election in modern history. There has been such sharp rhetoric over the last few months that has left a country embroiled in angst on many levels. It has crept into the church. I have watched the rhetoric of society attempt to become the rhetoric of the people of God. But I know exactly what will happen the day after tomorrow; the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace will still be on the throne. Light will still shine in the darkness and those looking for it will find it. Justice will be a reality around the world for those with hearts to embrace it. Peace will still transform marriages, and workplaces, and families, and governments, and nations, and souls in turmoil.

Our identity as the people of God is not determined by the darkness around us. Our identity is shaped by the one that Isaiah proclaims in these verses. In the midst of our food court moments of life how will we respond when the notes on the organ change from dissonance to harmony? Will we welcome a voice in the mundane that proclaims the coming of the Messiah? Will we sit back and listen as a spectator or will we be that people who allow the song in our hearts that longs to be cut loose to join in the song that was first sung to a group of shepherds under the cover of night?

There are a few souls in the video that catch my attention. These are people who look on as though they have no idea what is going on. Maybe they don’t know the song. Maybe the song doesn’t resonate in their heart. Maybe they truly are observers. This Christmas, let us do everything to proclaim, as Isaiah did, the good news of a light that step into darkness for them. May we be the people who proclaim the reality of Handel’s last line, “King of kings and Lord of lords, and he shall reign for ever and ever.” This Christmas, may we proclaim from the depths of our being to a world in need of a holy flash mob who knows a different story. Hallelujah.