Advent Day 23: Three Lasting Gifts
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; a light has dawned on those living in the land of darkness. You have enlarged the nation and increased its joy. The people have rejoiced before you as they rejoice at harvest time and as they rejoice when dividing spoils. For you have shattered their oppressive yoke and the rod on their shoulders, the staff of their oppressor, just as you did on the day of Midian. For every trampling boot of battle and the bloodied garments of war will be burned as fuel for the fire. 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 named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”
Isaiah 9:2-6 CSB
As this season of Advent comes to a close and we prepare for Christmas Day, let us consider three lasting gifts that accompany our Lord’s coming and the anticipation of His return: light, joy, and peace.
A great light has dawned, and our “land of darkness” will never again be the same! Yes, we still experience the shadows—in particular, the valley of the shadow. And these are awful in their own rights. Nevertheless, the light has broken and the sun of righteousness has risen with “healing in it’s wings” (Malachi 4:2). The shadows are fleeting and temporary, and in the end, even death’s assault, with all its pain and agony, is similarly empty.
Joy is now increased! Though defeat, slavery, and exile are all too familiar, they will no longer have the last word. The shackles of our oppression have been broken and the once-heavy yoke of our bondage has been replaced by one that is curiously easy and light. And now well-being and flourishing and thriving are our birthrights. “Weeping may stay overnight, but there is joy in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). And it is joy that has the future.
And finally, war has given way to peace! The boots of battle and the “bloodied garments” will be destroyed and consumed. For a Child will be born and given—for us and to us! And this Child will carry governments and nations and His eternal reign will be marked by…peace.
In a conversation this morning with my brother Jeremy, he reminded me that our Lord is not the Prince of Calm but the Prince of Peace. And that peace is not just the absence of conflict but better characterized by the Jewish understanding of Shalom—where everything is finally redeemed and completely restored. This is ultimately the vision that Advent can leave us with. The Baby in the manger—who is Counselor, God, Father, and Prince—will put everything to rights and bring all of the cosmos together once and for all. As we saw in a previous reflection, “The wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the goat. The calf, the young lion, and the fattened calf will be together, and a child will lead them” (Isaiah 11:6).
May this Child lead us, with His light, His joy, and His peace as we remember His Advent and celebrate His birth!
Christmas card credit: Holiday Collection 948400, Masterpiece Studios, North Mankato, Minnesota