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Miscellaneous

Advent 2019 #4—Illuminated Deliverance

When one looks out over the land, he sees distress and darkness, gloom and anxiety, darkness and people forced from the land. The gloom will be dispelled for those who were anxious. … Now he brings honor to the way of the sea, the region beyond the Jordan, and Galilee of the nations. The people walking in darkness see a bright light; light shines on those who live in a land of deep darkness. Isaiah 8:22–9:1

My enemies, do not gloat over me! Though I have fallen, I will get up. Though I sit in darkness, Yahweh will be my light. I will endure Yahweh’s anger, for I have sinned against him. But then he will defend my cause, and accomplish justice on my behalf. He will lead me out into the light; I will experience firsthand his deliverance. Micah 7:8–9

The people of the nations walked in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart. Ephesians 4:17–18

The Father has qualified us to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light: he delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of the Son he loves. Colossians 1:12

As I write this on the ‘shortest’ day of the year, Christmas lights push back the darkness, dispelling the gloom both physically and metaphorically. This is as it should be. For Jesus, the Light of Christmas, did the same—indeed still does the same—for God’s people who have wandered away into the darkness of sin. Isaiah recorded God’s promise to bring his rebellious people back from the distress and darkness of exile into the light of fellowship with him. Micah encouraged himself in the midst of his own personal sin with the same truth. Paul urges us to remember, with joy, how utterly different it is to live under the authority of the “Son of his love” than the “dominion of darkness.” I began to write his year’s Christmas sonnet to celebrate this dramatic change in a general way, for us all. But I could not escape the truth of Micah’s confession that I am still being rescued. So, there are two sonnets this year: one for all of us and one for each of us.

Anxiety engulfs the sinful heart
With echoes of the garden’s tragic loss;
And death’s dark gloom descends when we depart
From God’s well-lighted way to wander—lost
In ignorance and futile vanity—
While anguish and regret constrain the soul,
And fill us with an animosity
And heartache we can’t possibly console.
But gladness is not very far away
For light has pierced the darkness of our night.
The Christmas star is more than just a sign;
A promise of an end to our dismay.
The Christ has come to save us from our plight;
Dispelling darkness, he’s the light divine!

Anxiety engulfs my sinful heart
With echoes of the garden’s tragic loss;
And death’s dark gloom descends when I depart
From your well-lighted way to wander—lost
In ignorance and futile vanity—
While anguish and regret constrain my soul,
And fill me with an animosity
And heartache I can’t easily control.
But gladness is not very far away
For light has pierced the darkness of my night;
My sight restored by your unfolding plan:
Your righteous, gracious zeal devised a way;
Your might engaged to free me from my plight;
Your Christ a Christmas treasure for this man.

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