Our Old Testament passage today was written at a time of war and conflict in the life of the small Kingdom of Judah. The Northern Kingdom of Israel had formed an alliance with Syria and attacked their compatriots in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The Kingdom of Judah in turn sought the help of the great Assyrian Empire, which to the prophet Isaiah was like doing a deal with the devil.
But in the midst of this tension, the Prophet Isaiah looks forward to a time when the darkness of war will be lifted and all the gear of war would be destroyed with the birth of a new king who would bring peace.
It is a passage that captures the deepest longings of most human hearts… the longing for peace and security.
But it also describes something of the human condition as it has become. Much of humanity live in a sense of darkness. And that darkness often has its roots in the mind. A mind darkened by ignorance. Darkened by fear. Darkened by self-centredness and selfishness. Darkened by crooked thinking.
But it was not our original condition. If as John says, God is Love and Good is light, then Genesis suggests that if we were made in God’s image, then we were made in the image of God’s light and in the image of God’s love… but somehow this original brightness within us became dimmed and darkened.
The birth of Jesus represents the renewing of humanity. Here is a human being in whom the brightness of God’s image is no longer dimmed. Here is a human being whose mind has recovered it’s original brightness. Free from fear. Free from ignorance. Free from selfishness and self-centeredness. Free from crooked thinking. Here is a human being whose presence and very existence promises the healing of all humanity, for when one human shines with the brightness of God’s presence, the opportunity exists for others to become opened to the Light of God also.
And so the Isaiah passage contains this wonderful line: To a people walking in darkness, a light has been seen. On those living in a land of deep shadows, a light has shone.
And this is the wonderful news of Christmas… the birth of Jesus represents a shaft of light shining into the collective heart and mind of humanity. A crack has appeared in the collective mind of humanity… a light has begun to shine, revealing that it doesn’t have to be this way. Life can be different. Humanity can be different if only we would let the light in.
Can we dare to open our own minds to this Christmas Light of Christ? Can we dare to allow ourselves to be transformed by the renewing of our own minds into the Brightness, the Openess and the Clarity of the Mind of Christ, that mind that is at one and at peace with God. Amen.