Isaiah 9: 1-4 (NRSVA)
1 But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
2 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.
3 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.
4 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.
People sometimes ask, jokingly, does God have a sense of humour?
I have absolutely no doubt of it. How else would I land a brief about the senses – ‘See, feel, taste, know’ – when I have recently had cataract surgery, a bone scan (routine check, no alarm) and a bout of Covid which impaired my sense of taste?
So I know.
‘The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light’ — one of many passages which I read to the accompaniment in my head of the music from Handel’s Messiah. So that encompasses the hearing too.
We usually read this prophecy in the season of Advent, looking forward to the promised light to come.
Through a glass darkly, dim images in a mirror – these phrases have been with me for some months now, as I have had my two cataracts removed, and discovered that the world is actually in Glorious Technicolour. I had no idea!
It is often only once something is gone that we realise it was ever there, like the cloudy fog I had been looking through.
And when the light dawns, we see and feel the new day, the lifting of our burden.
God of the light,
of the light which has overcome the darkness
and the darkness has never put it out,
of the light that is both bright daylight
and the lightness of a lifted burden,
give us grace we pray,
to be lights to those around us,
and to lighten their burdens.