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It is 6:30 in the morning, and outside it is dark and cold ... make that very dark and very cold! The thermometer tells me it is 28 degrees outside. And if it were not for the lingering effects of the Super Moon, there would be no light at all. A few snow flakes are fluttering about in the air.

I like the change of seasons, but ... mornings like this are tough. I am thankful that this is a 'Free Press Delivery Day'. The venture of a few feet down the driveway is much easier than the near mile of run/walk to the Speedway station. It will be two more weeks until the daylight starts gaining again on the night. Even though it is early morning and I am the only one up, I turn on the fireplace ... and the thought of staying here all day keeps lingering in the back of my mind.

I wonder what the earth looked like from heaven's perspective before that first Christmas. I think what God saw was dark and cold ... make that very dark and very cold ... no, very, very dark and very, very cold. Isaiah speaks of people walking in darkness, of people dwelling in a land of deep darkness. (Isaiah 9.2) These verses, though, lead into a very warm and encouraging messianic promise: "For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9.6) It is interesting to me that the first verse of this chapter is seldom read. "The gloom of the distressed land will not be like that of the former times when he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali. But in the future he will bring honor to the way of the sea, to the land east of the Jordan, and to Galilee of the nations." (Isaiah 9.1) It may be interesting to me, but, as I re-read that verse, I realize it sounds quite boring on its own!

However Matthew tells us that, right after John was arrested, Jesus "left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali ... to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah." (Matthew 4.13-14) And then, almost surprisingly, the light and warmth that came to earth on Christmas starts to shine. "From then on Jesus began to preach, 'Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near.'" (Matthew 4.17)

Where is all of this taking me? Well, first of all, I am reminded that, no matter how deep the darkness or bone-chilling the cold, the gloom and distress will not be like that of the former times because of that first Christmas ... and that God is saying to me, "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord shines over you." (Isaiah 60.1) Secondly, though the thought of curling up in front of the fireplace with a good book ("Rich Church - Poor Church" is next on my list) sounds very appealing, it would be extremely selfish of me to ignore those first two words of Isaiah 60.

In the midst of every dark and wintry moment of our lives, no matter which season the calendar claims, in the center of every baptized community there is light and warmth, hope and courage. And it is all because of that first Christmas. On that day, "the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1.14) "In him was life, and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it." (John 1.4-5)

And, if it is in the midst of every baptized community, this ember of hope and courage remains alive in every baptized individual ... no matter how dark or cold life may seem ... for we have something far greater than a Super Moon in our midst ... we have "the Word who became flesh making his dwelling among us!"

In other words, "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord shines over you." Have a great day as you share His light and warmth with all you encounter.

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