For many, 2016 was a year for the burning.
There were lots of reasons really (see this fantastic post by Steve Holmes), but it was with some of those in mind that I chose to speak this year from Isaiah 9 for our church’s Christmas Eve service.
It is a text that emerges (quite literally) from “utter darkness” (8.22)
Yet it begins with a note of tenacious hope: “Nevertheless” (9.1).
In some ways the gospel is contained in this word. “Nevertheless.” It is a denial of denial and a refusal to paper over the ugly side of life. Still it also displays a ruthless trust that, in spite of everything, as Sam Cooke sang: “a change is gonna come”
Thus the text goes on:
Every warrior’s boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
While I’m not much of a poet, I wanted to translate this promise into the imagery of the 21st century. So here goes:
Every missile silo, armed and ready
Every bloody sword, oncology ward;
Every shantytown and hospital gown will be fuel for the fire.
Every divorce attorney and hospice gurney;
Every crutch, every cane, every bit of pain will be destined for the burning.
Every condolence letter and prisoner’s fetter;
Every funeral home and graveyard stone will be fuel for the fire.
Every addict’s craving and politician’s raving
Every surprise pink slip, every medicated IV drip will be destined for the burning
Every lonely dark and bullying remark will be fuel for the fire.
Every bombed-out playground in Aleppo
every body-bag, outpost Restrepo
…Boston, Baghdad, Berlin—every percussive echo, will be heard no more.
“For unto us a child is born, and unto us a Son is given
And the Government will be upon his shoulders.”
My good friend Josh Wright asked me if he could adapt this for a song and you can hear it here.