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.” (Isaiah 9:2)

Have you considered, beloved reader, the diverse responses people have to this time of year? For some, it is a time of sad reminders; something that happened a year ago, or ten years ago, is likely to have reverberations. For some it is a time of year for tensions and pressures; it is hard to respond and react with the typical seasonal joy if the pressures and expectations that are within you and surround you are too much to bear. It would be nice if society was savvy enough to make room for this type of reaction. Traditional Christmas songs (especially non-religious ones) tend to trumpet out frivolity and lightness. How good it would be if the deliverance that came with Jesus’ birth were to be theme of our Christmas wishes.

“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. For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire.” (Verses 3 – 5)

I can think of several people of my acquaintance for whom this time of year is a hard one. Some who have memories of years past that are not pleasant. And for some, this time of year in the future will be a hard one to bear. The weeks and days of Advent and Christmas not always respectful for containing only good tidings of great joy.

Consider too that the times that Jesus was born into were not happy times, or easy times. Certainly the news of birth would represent relief, but the true fruition of that was decades off.

For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.” (Verses 6 – 7)

We have waited & remembered, sought & found comfort, felt the Spirit moving, and anticipated great things. Hope,once established can grow. First though, hope must take root. What can you do, beloved reader, to nurture and kindle hope in others? And what must be done on your behalf to have your hopes planted and nurtured? I pray to the Lord God that you may find hope, and that you may encourage and support hope in others. As the four candles of Advent have found light and chased away the darkness, may the Divine illuminate your heart and spirit! Shalom & Selah!