78 By the tender mercy of our God,
   the dawn from on high will break upon us,

79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.’

Zechariah portrays a world we know too well. There is so much “darkness”. We walk so often “in the shadow of death”. It is easy to feel troubled by the state of the world into which Jesus was born and which seems so often to have changed so little since that day.

The news is filled with the tragic brokenness of the human condition. It seems we have failed to learn the lessons of history. And so we repeat the desperate errors and foolishness of the past.

How are we to find our way in these confusing and troubling times?

Zechariah’s hymn of praise to God, ends on a note of promise, a promise of light in the midst of darkness and death. “The dawn from on high will break upon us.” A “guide” is coming who will show us how to walk in “the way of peace”.

What is this “way of peace” Zechariah sees dawning on the horizon?

Clearly, unless Zechariah was very much mistaken, the “way of peace” he prophesied was not a way in which the world would live for all time with no war, no violence and no turmoil. Such a world has never existed for long in any culture in all of human history. There seems to be some darkness that lurks at the heart of the human condition which compels us from time to time to embark upon a path of mutual self-destruction.

In John 16:33, Jesus is reported to have acknowledged without flinching, “In this world you will have trouble”. But, Jesus introduced this dark assessment of the human situation with the promise that, “in me you may have peace”.

“The way of peace” that Zechariah announced and that Jesus embodied, is an inward journey. The peace Jesus brought does not depend upon external circumstance. It resides in the human heart. The irony of course is that, the more peace we reclaim within, the greater the peace will be in the world. The way of inner peace, is the path to peace in the world.


Today I will watch for the peaceful spaces between all the grief and sorrow that sweep over the world. I will listen for the voice that calls me back to the peace in my heart.

(Dorothy Dahli photo 2020 Water Lily Royal Roads. Victoria, BC)