13 December 2011Isaiah 9:1-7 (Looking for hope in despair)
"For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named, Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (v. 6)
The nature of prophesy is about promise and hope rather than
prediction. Into the wilderness of people's experience Isaiah
speaks a promise that evokes hope. The optimist may see the best in
a given situation - a half-empty cup seen as half-full. Isaiah is
no optimist - he is well aware of the trouble they are in - but
speaks with God's promise and sees not a half-empty cup, or even a
half-full cup, but a cup "pressed down, shaken together, running
over" (Luke 6:38). This is what hope is. On the surface
of it this may seem an easy and comforting message, but the very
exuberance of Isaiah's prophesy challenges us. Hope is not an easy
thing to live with; it unsettles us from simply enduring the
present, living in the humdrum and sometimes difficult world. We
hear a different song, a new drum beat, and we find ourselves out
of step with what is, as we heed the sound of the triumphant
promise of what will be. And at the heart of the promise is a
"Prince of Peace", a new David who will make demands upon a people
who must now live "with justice and with righteousness" (v. 7).
These mighty words shook the status quo of a troubled people
challenging them to see the 'not yet in the here and now' and
demanding that they 'live as if in the not yet'.
Where do you see darkness and burdens in your own life and the life of the world?
What are God's promises to you that challenge you to the difficult task of hope?
"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:9-10)