They lived in a time of despair and uncertainty, a people looking for hope and to these people, God makes a promise:
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light.
For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. (Isaiah 9.2)
The Jews who first heard this message through Isaiah hundreds of years ago would almost certainly have taken it to be a promise of a military leader who would come and defeat all of their enemies. Their hope was to become a secure and sovereign nation again and they longed for God to make this a reality.
We now know that these words spoke of Jesus who was the Messiah but in an unexpected way, he rescued us all, not from other nations but rather from separation from God.
Jesus came into this world and the people who met him saw who God was, they received hope and they discovered what it was to live in the light.
At this time of great uncertainty in our nation we need the light of God to shine even more brightly and so this is my prayer for the UK at the beginning of 2019:
Jesus, may we see your light shining even brighter this year.
May all those who are walking in darkness find the hope and salvation that only you can bring.
Help us, your people, to let your light shine in us and through us.