The lectionary gives us this passage from Isaiah as the first reading for Christmas Eve. Many Christians read verses 6-7 as a description of the Christ child.
Isaiah was talking to a people who had suffered defeat: A light is shining on people in the dark. This image is reassuring--as with joy at the harvest.
And he offers a trouble image, as well--They will be as joyous as victors sharing plunder.
More reassurance follows--the yoke you bore is broken, the stick that beat you is broken, the rod that controlled you is broken.
Then Isaiah reminds his people of the price of their release: their enemy will be trampled, their uniforms set on fire.
Focus on the positive message as you look toward Christmas Eve, but don't forget entirely the negative. Consider the promises that God makes through the prophet Isaiah and the warnings.
Lectio Divina: Isaiah 9:6-7
Now read Luke 2:1-20
In that region,” this text for Christmas Eve begins. The region that Luke is referring to is the portion of the Roman Empire. Look back at verses 1-7. Augustus is emperor; Quirinius is governor. The emperor decrees that all persons be registered; that is, the emperor is going to make sure that he gets taxes from everybody under his control.
Then there are some folks who can’t issue decrees. The only things they control are somebody else’s sheep. And it is to this kind of person that the angels go with their news. Not the emperor, not the governor, but the shepherds.
Although they had a positive image in the Old Testament--think of the 23rd Psalm, for example--shepherds living and working at the time of Jesus’ birth were not viewed positively. Rather, they were regarded as lower class, untrustworthy, migrant workers who used other people’s grass to feed their sheep.
The shepherds were not expecting the news. They were at work, and to their society at the time, not very well-thought-of work. Yet, the Lord sent a messenger to them with the good news.
Their response was immediate. They went to Bethlehem immediately to see for themselves. And when they had seen, they told what they had seen.
Questions: Who is trusted by God to receive and carry messages? Try to imagine a modern-day counterpart to first century shepherds. Would you be interested in anything such people had to say to you? Is it hard for you to imagine God’s telling them something before letting you know?
Source: Mississippi Advocate