“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
Read Isaiah 9:2-7
Iwish you could meet my two friends who minister in downtown Los Angeles. For 30 years Pastor Greg, an African American, and Pastor Luis, a Latino, have been witnesses to the light of Christ in Watts, once one of the most violent areas in America. Their partnership is significant because they intentionally placed their ministry right on the boundary of two feuding ethnic groups. Today their small neighborhood church provides services and acts as a kind of demilitarized zone for the community. It’s a neutral space where, after three decades, both of the ethnic populations they represent now joyfully worship alongside one another.
The prophet Isaiah had good news and bad news for people of his day. First, the bad news. In chapters seven and eight Isaiah forecasts the darkest period of Israel’s history–the Assyrian captivity that brought both physical and spiritual despair to the Northern Kingdom. The prophet goes on in chapter eight to announce one of the greatest prophecies in the Old Testament. The darkness would be overcome by joy, the yoke of oppression broken and the weapons of violence destroyed. How would this happen? Through a tiny baby, the Prince of Peace.
Nearly 3,000 years later Pastors Greg and Luis continue to share Isaiah’s good news, proclaiming Christ’s peace and the light of his kingdom. Their example reminds me to look every day for those who walk in darkness and despair and inspires me to be a bearer of light and reconciliation at my job, in my neighborhood or wherever I find myself.
God, may we, your children, reflect the light of your son in the midst of darkness. Let the Prince of Peace be evident to all we encounter.
Tim Neufeld, D.Min., Professor of Contemporary Christian Ministries,
Fresno Pacific University