13 December 2011

Isaiah 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'.

To Ponder

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?

A challenge:
"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)

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Mark Wakelin

Born in Africa to missionary parents, Mark Wakelin is a Methodist minister, He was the President of the Methodist Conference 2012/2013, and before that worked for the Connexional Team, as the secretary for internal relationships. He is now the minster at Epsom Methodist Chuch.