Monday, December 04, 2006

The Light of Hope - Part I

If you have candles on an Advent wreath at home, or if your church observes Advent customs, you know that the wreath holds four candles. Each week an additional candle flame is lit till at last all four candles shine together. Some add a fifth candle on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, called the Christ candle. The others stand for Hope, Peace, Love and Joy. Last Sunday, the candle of hope was lit in many churches and homes around the world.

There were hundreds of years between the writing of the final book of the Old Testament and the birth of Jesus Christ, the first event of the New Testament. All that long time, people kept waiting and wondering and praying—looking for the promised Messiah.

The Prophet Isaiah wrote some amazing words of hope. His powerful imagery spoke of the One who would someday come. The Messiah...the Light.

The people who walked in darkness
Will see a great light.
Those who live in a dark land,
On them the light will shine.
You will increase their gladness
Like the gladness that comes at harvest....
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given,
And the government shall be upon his shoulders.
And his name shall be called: Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
There will be no end to his government, or of his peace,
On the throne of David and over his kingdom forever.

In our church yesterday we lit the Hope Candle as the congregation sang “O Come O Come Emmanuel.” The words of this beautiful old carol (my personal favorite) are rather melancholy and the minor chords add to the sense of waiting, longing, in darkness. When I hear it I always think of Isaiah’s words...the people are waiting in darkness for the light to come. Listen with me:

O come, O come Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here,
Until the Son of God appear.

O come thou Dayspring,
Come and cheer,
Our spirits by Thine advent here,
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And earth’s dark shadows put to flight...

And the joyful words of the chorus ring out in contrast:

Rejoice, rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee,
O Israel.

Hope seems easy when all is going well. What about when we walk in a dark valley, a valley of waiting? Emmanuel—“God is with us.” Are you in a valley of some sort and feeling in need of renewed hope today? Rejoice! Emmanuel has come! God is with you!

Prayer: O God of Light and Hope, shine on us. Our way is not clear, and our thoughts are sometimes dark. Help us, like Isaiah did, to abide, to live, in confident hope for the day when the waiting ends and the light bursts forth. We will wait confidently for you, knowing that Jesus Christ has come and you, God, are with us! Amen

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this posting. I especially appreciated the words from the Old Testament as well as the song - both are among my favorites too. Beautiful words; beautiful music and very inspirational.