Advent Meditation by Libby Kovacs
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
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.
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From the beginning of time people have experienced times of darkness followed by periods of light and joy. Isaiah tells us: “You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder.” (Isaiah 9:3)
As I read this passage, I thought, “How odd that Isaiah uses the farmer who harvests and the one who plunders as examples of rejoicing. Why would he do that?” Then, Isaiah continued, “For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressors you have broken…” That sounds familiar; the same theme occurs in Compline (Book of Common Prayer, pg. 131/Matthew 11:28-30): “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Isaiah and Jesus use the same symbols (burdens and yoke) to describe God bringing His people out of the darkness and into the light. What a paradoxical message! Life is difficult and brings darkness to the righteous and unrighteous at the same time. No, they all suffer, but the ones who will see light and rejoice will be those who have faith, love, and trust in the Lord. He will bring them peace and rest and joy into their lives.
Darkness is a part of life’s journey, just as is the light. This idea reflects the paradox of crisis that everyone experiences at some point in time. Crises mean both opportunity and danger. The normal developmental crises that everyone goes through are first and foremost, birth and, ultimately, death. Going through labor is one of the most painful experiences that a woman can go through, and yet it is also an occasion for happiness and rejoicing. Death is normal – it happens to all – and also is painful for it means a great loss for the person dying and the survivors; yet, with normal grieving and mourning, peace can be achieved.
Other “normal” crises are: starting school which may be difficult for both parent and child; adolescence is normal and difficult; graduation, you adults leaving home for the first time, getting married, getting promoted and/or losing one’s job, home; moving to a different part of the country. All of these experiences require that we deal with painful feelings – which are normal – making adjustments and adaptations that are not easy or fun.
Then there are catastrophic illnesses and accidents, disasters of fire and floods, the traumas of dysfunctional families, and the wounds of wars that are not “normal” and require long periods of recovery and healing. The one certainty in all of these events that happen to us and to many, many others is that God is with us in our tragic times and in our daily lives, just as we were promised by Isaiah and other prophets, and by Jesus who is called, “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father (and Mother) and Prince of Peace.