CELEBRATING FOUR MONTHS EARLY

by Cynthia Ruchti
As of this date, we’re four months from candle-lit,
evergreen-scented, hushed and holy celebrations of the birth of the Christ
Child.
That’s not what crossed my mind when I woke this morning. It
jarred me later, when I wearied of the news—one heartache or atrocity after another, one
report of heinous-osity maxing out our vocabularies of the heinous. It smacked
my frontal cortex long after my second cup of coffee. It rattled me. I needed
rattling.
I’m speaking on the subject of rejoicing at a women’s
retreat in less than two weeks. Rejoicing and joy have paddled hard for
attention against the floodwaters of international heartbreak, whispers of “Is
this another holocaust? God help us!” and losses that turn our nation into
mourners. Rejoicing. Joy.
The topical index in the back of my Bible—old school
searching—suggested Isaiah 9 as a place to find the word joy. As I turned the pages, I hoped I’d learn more conceptually, too.
Smacked. Jarred. Rattled. Bowed down.
My eyes rested on a verse tucked just underneath the joy
reference in that column. “Because every boot of the thundering warriors, and
every garment rolled in blood will be burned, fuel for the fire,” Isaiah 9:5 CEB.
Yes! God cares what’s happening! As if I needed the
reminder. The perpetrators of the heaviness under which we’re trying to breathe
and write and work and laugh when our grandchildren say something funny will be
stopped and called to account for what they’re doing.
This is when rejoicing began to push out my portion of
international despair—when I read the next verse, the one immediately following
the “garments rolled in blood.”
A child is born to
us,
   
a son is given to us,
And authority will
be
    on his shoulders.
He will be named
Wonderful
Counselor,
                            Mighty God,           
Eternal Father,
Prince of Peace.
There will be vast
authority
    and endless peace.
                        Isaiah 9:6-7, CEB
That’s the context? That’s the setup for the treasured
announcement promising the Christ Child’s coming?
The text flows seamlessly:
Isaiah 8:21—“They will pass through the land, dejected and
hungry, and when they are hungry, they will be enraged and will curse their
king and God. They will turn toward heaven and look to the earth, but they will
see only distress and darkness, random movement, and the anguish and doom of
banishment. (Chapter 9) Nonetheless, those who were in distress won’t be
exhausted…The people walking in darkness have seen a great light. On those
living in a pitch-dark land, light has dawned. You have made the nation great;
you have increased its joy. They rejoiced before you as with joy at the
harvest, as those who divide plunder rejoice…You’ve shattered the yoke that
burdened them, the staff on their shoulders, and the rod of their oppressor.
Because every boot of the thundering warriors, and every garment rolled in
blood will be burned, fuel for the fire. A child is born to us,”—No break in the story!—“a son is given
to us, and authority will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful
Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be vast
authority and endless peace…”
A “pitch-dark land” is promised a Messiah. For those
exhausted by distress, a Messiah. For those confused by “random movement” and
“anguish and doom” on every hand, a Messiah to believe in, cling to, rejoice
in.
Isn’t that at the heart of every word we speak or write?
Onto the darkest of backgrounds, the most trying scene, the gravest crisis, we
layer the “Ah, yes, but…!” of the Promise.
Everything changes when Jesus appears on the scene.

Joy. To the world.
Rejoicing in Hope, Cynthia Ruchti tells stories of Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark, the pitch-dark, through her award-winning novels, novellas, devotions, nonfiction, and through speaking events for women and writers. She currently serves as professional relations liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers. You can connect with her through cynthiaruchti.com, www.twitter.com/cynthiaruchti, or www.facebook.com/CynthiaRuchtiReaderPage.