I’m sure that you have noticed it too. Every year stores haul out the Christmas merchandise earlier and earlier. It seems as if there is a rush toward celebrating Christmas. And as strange as it might feel, it strikes me that the world has always been that way.
Long before the gospel accounts of the Christmas story ever take place, some 700 years earlier, the prophet Isaiah was calling for an early celebration of Christmas as well. He assessed the situation around him by saying, “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.” (Isaiah 9:2)
And what is this great light that Isaiah speaks of? “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen.” (Isaiah 9:6-7)
Over 20 centuries of Christians have believed that Isaiah’s words were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. If so, then Isaiah was someone who got an early start on Christmas. And ironically people have been scrambling to catch up to his vision ever since.
So many things are good about the world in which we live, but I think most of us would have to confess that many in our world “walk in darkness” much of the time. Hundreds of years after Isaiah, John set out to tell the story of Christmas and when he did, he used Isaiah’s figure of speech. “God created everything through him and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it.” (John 1:3-5)
Isaiah called out for an early celebration of Christmas. He knew that people of his day needed it, and as history has demonstrated, the need is the same in every generation. We humans were made for light, and we don’t do well shriveled into places of darkness.
So, may Christmas come to each of us here and now. May the light of Christ illuminate the darkness of our world.