by Larry Doornbos, Director Vibrant Congregations
The land of Narnia. The White Witch rules, and because she does, it is always winter, but never Christmas. It is, in short, a place short on hope, short on a future, short on joy. Always winter but never Christmas— the great event of winter stolen away. That which brings joy, indeed the most incredible joy has been stopped from happening. Always winter, never Christmas.
In the book of Isaiah, we read,
“Here am I, and the children the LORD has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the LORD Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion. When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn. Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God. Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness.” (Isaiah 8:18–22 NIV11)
A No Dawn People
- who are hungry
- with no home to go to
- who have no light of dawn
- who live in utter darkness
In other words, a people living in a place where it is always winter and never Christmas. Or to steal the words of Isaiah, these are a “no dawn people”; they never expect the light of day to shine on them again.
They never expect the light of day to shine upon them again because God has gone silent. They’ve knocked on his door, pounded on his door, but he has gone silent. In desperation, they’ve gone to mediums and spiritists, trying to find out something – anything to get them to the dawn—but in doing so, they’ve alienated themselves further from the one voice that can break through the darkness, who can bring the dawn.
For many, we are in a “no dawn” season. It is always winter, never Christmas. Every time we think there will be a thaw, freezing rain pours down. Our attempts to find our way out of this winter through politics, conspiracy theories, protesting masks or no masks, vaccines or no vaccines leave us cold, in the dark, rather than stepping us toward the dawn.
Leaders: People of the Dawn
At this moment, leaders desperately need to be people of the dawn. A dawn rooted not in politics or the arguments of our day, but in the promises about Jesus and God’s actions in history. Leaders who draw people to the dawn declare with gladness and hope that the promises about Jesus and the work of God in sending Jesus are enough.
- Enough to face the winter
- Enough when the thaw changes to freezing rain
Jesus himself and God’s actions empower our lives and call us to actively follow Jesus while we wait for a richer season of grace.
Leaders declare God’s promises and actions are enough to turn us from darkness to dawn. Leaders declare it is enough. They speak that it will not always be winter; Christmas will come. Isaiah writes,
“Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness. Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan— The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. Isaiah 8.22-9.1
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light – the promise of a coming light the people don’t produce and don’t have anything to do with making it happen. It is a light given, a darkness-shattering gift to people who believe there can never be a dawn.
In this land where it seems like it is always winter, never Christmas, leaders point to the gift and hope of the Light of the world.