Week 2: The Light of Peace
Because of the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us,
To shine on those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.
Luke 1:78-79 (NASB)
This trail sure looks different in the dark! As I descended the mountainside, I could still smell smoke from the campfire and hear the giggles of preteen girls snuggled in sleeping bags. I was working as support staff at camp but had accompanied the counselors and campers for their traditional cookout on a stunning rocky vista. Our time on the mountaintop had been glorious! We laughed together on the hike, cooked over the fire, and shared stories of God’s faithfulness.
Now, I left that behind. Since I had to be up early for kitchen duty, I chose to trek back in the dark – by myself. I knew the trail well, but it seemed eerily unfamiliar and dreadfully lonely in the blackness. I clicked on my headlamp. Though not top-of-the-line, its bulb was bright enough to reveal the path right before me and illuminate each blaze. I grew increasingly grateful for its comforting light – a soft beam of peace in the darkness that guided my feet, steadied my nerves, and helped me arrive safely.
In the centuries before Christ’s birth, God’s people experienced seasons of intense darkness. After Israel’s mountaintop-like flourishing under David and Solomon, the ensuing years of division, violence, and conquest must have felt like a treacherous descent into black obscurity. Living as exiles and subjugated tribes, they desperately needed light. Always faithful, God provided promises of peace – small, steady beams to sustain and guide them as they awaited the Messiah: “…Those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them…His name will be called…Prince of Peace…” (Isaiah 9:2-7).
Then, when Israel’s need was perhaps greatest, the Light came to them, not just as a promise, but as a child – God Incarnate, Jesus Christ. He arrived, offering peace to all who believed from every nation. He gave this peace not “as the world gives” (John 14:27), by means of strength and power, but through weakness. He gave Himself, becoming the very way of peace back to God.
And so, when the world seems darkest, the night seems longest, and our journey seems to lead ever downward, we remember the Christ-child, born to be our peace. He is the steadfast beacon who will guide our feet, steady our hearts, and lead us home.
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