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Daily Devotional • December 13

Pamela Lewis
Light Over Darkness
A Reading from Isaiah 9:1-7

1 But there will be no gloom for those who were 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 will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.

2 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.
3 You have multiplied exultation;
    you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
    as with joy at the harvest,
    as people exult when dividing plunder.
4 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.
5 For all the boots of the tramping warriors
    and all the garments rolled in blood
    shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
6 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.
7 Great will be his authority,
    and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
    He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

The closest I have come to experiencing total darkness was on November 9, 1965, when most of New York and several neighboring states, as well as parts of eastern Canada, were hit by what came to be known as the Great Northeast Blackout. The outage lasted about two days, stranding commuters, and causing all manner of disruptions. At night the city was shrouded in a profound and nearly primeval darkness, which was frightening to my much younger self. I was impatient for daylight’s return.

Whereas we modern inhabitants of the “new world” walked in a power-failure-caused darkness, the northern territories of Zebulun and Naphtali, which had been humbled by God, walked in a spiritual darkness. But they were also the territories where Jesus grew up and often ministered; the people of these lands would see the “great light” to be brought by Christ’s ministry. The apostle John had referred to Jesus as the “light” (John 1:9), and Jesus referred to himself as “the light of the world” (John 8:12). In the verses which composer George Frideric Handel immortalized in his oratorio, Messiah, we are told that a child is born, and a son is given, whose great — and unchildlike — names will include “Wonderful Counselor,” “Mighty God,” and “Prince of Peace.” 

While earthly kingdoms will rise and fall, Christ’s government, founded on justice and righteousness, will only increase and never end. When that government is established, we will no longer walk in darkness.

Pamela A. Lewis taught French for 30 years before retirement. A lifelong resident of Queens, New York, she attends Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue and serves on various lay ministries. She writes for The Episcopal New Yorker, Episcopal Journal, and The Living Church.

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