Friday, 04 Dec 2020
Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honour Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
when dividing the plunder.
For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior’s boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.
The lines of Isaiah 9:1-7 could appear very familiar as we hear them each Christmas, as they have been so movingly set to music in George Friedric Handel’s composition Messiah.
Historically the passage may point to the looming invasion of Assyria especially to the northern region of ancient Israel, but it is the prophetic anticipation of the Messiah that speaks to us today.
People in darkness who see a great light may reference the struggle of many in poverty and disadvantage, especially those living with disability. The light is a beacon of God inspired hope which may draw those suffering to a more fulfilling way of being.
The imagery of darkness and light is particularly resonant for myself as a person with blindness. Whatever the challenges in my life, I can be bathed in God’s inner light, a light that transcends vision impairment with an invitation to a greater truth.
Through our work striving with disability, and supporting those in this situation, we can embrace the imagery of harvest, reaping the benefits of a job well done.
The second part of the passage is in stark contrast to the previous threats of violence and oppression. The words point to the coming of the messiah or Christ.
Jesus comes to us in his humanity. Disability is parting of being human. Jesus in his humanity knows what it is like to hunger, thirst, feel weary. In being human, Jesus is able to feel for the situation of those who are blind or experience physical disabilities. He knows our pain and offers comfort.
The imagery of the yoke reminds me that Christ has come to ease our burden. This knowledge is particularly pertinent when living with disability.
Christ government is a reign of justice and compassion. When doctors conduct operations upon people with disability in developing countries that are responding to this governance. When field workers assist with the provision of ramps or wheelchairs enabling children to attend school, they are following the call of Christ’s sovereignty.
Churches as the body of Christ are called to respond to his reign, dedicated as it is to achieving and upholding peace and justice.
To realise Christ’s just world means the acceptance inclusion and empowerment of those living with disability.
Graeme Turner has worked in the contact centre at CBM for more than three-and-a-half years. Graeme is a keen historian, writer and poet. Graeme lives with a vision impairment.