Z is for Zebulun
I can tell that you might be thinking, “Well, it’s Christmas Day and the pastor has officially run out of ideas.” I mean, come on . . . Zebulun?
Zebulun. It was one of the tribes of ancient Israel, named for the sixth son of Jacob and Leah – grandson of Isaac and Rebecca, great-grandson of Abraham and Sarah. In the days of the prophet Isaiah, the sons and daughters of Zebulun were remembered not for the glory of these illustrious ancestors but for the suffering that they had endured at the hands of the Assyrian empire. Long before the Babylonians came along to perfect the cruel art of exile, the Assyrians made captives of the people of Zebulun and carried them far from home.
For the prophet Isaiah, though, the memory of Zebulun’s suffering is transformed by the promise of a king who will bring light to the people and places who were once condemned to darkness:
“But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined.”
This is the promise of Christmas: there will be no more gloom for those who were in anguish. No longer will the people of Zebulun be remembered for the calamity of the former days – they, together with all who have walked in darkness, will be remade by the glorious light of God that shines now to make all things new. Our light is come. A child has been born for us – the king of a new realm of abundant life. Gloria in excelcis Deo!