The Night before Christmas or What’s the proper time to start playing the Christmas tunes?

fontcandy-40

So, which one are you? Are you a its-99-days-until-Christmas! kind of person or a wait-until-Thanksgiving-please kind of girl? Do you rock to the Christmas tunes with little abandon in mid July or do you avoid the home and garden section of Walmart and Target in October because instead of fall foliage and ferns, you feel stressed as they push the fake evergreens and strands of twinkly lights out onto the floor? Should we use Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?

Is there one right way?

I’m not so sure. Let’s remind ourselves of a familiar passage in Isaiah 9:2, 6-7 and hear it in a different context. Today it’s time for an advent devotion –

The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
    on them has light shone.

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

In these verses, Isaiah is prepping the Israelites to live in 400 years of silence. God is giving them the promise of Christmas, a few hundred years early, so that they can muscle through the dark season to come. I’m not sure we can imagine a time likes this – a time when God stopped speaking through the prophets and hadn’t yet given the Word in its fullness to His people. We do know darkness, but we do not know the darkness of a silent God.

One night, a long time ago in Bethlehem town a child was born to us. The Word made flesh dwelt among us. The temple curtain torn. His canon of the Word completed for us. We no longer live in silence. We have daily Hope in a Living Spirit that chooses us as His dwelling place.

The message of this hope can so easily be lost in the banter of our beliefs about the right and proper time to put out decorations, the correct greeting, the proper placement of the wise men in the nativity, the Facebook opinions that attempt to drown out the other side.

We love to be right, so much so, that we sacrifice the meaning and its message.

The message of Christmas is the message of a God who is awake. There was a night before Christmas.

And then the World awakened to a Baby Boy.

There were a few thousand nights before Christmas when people were waiting and hoping and praying and all along God had a plan. He was awake and listening to the cries of His people. He plotted the proper time. He chose just the right moment. And one morning, Hope was Born.

The angels awakened in the skies…

The wise men awaken from their study, to find sure and solid Truth…

The weary world wakes up Christmas morning to find that everlasting Joy has dawned…

Isaiah doesn’t stop there. Look at Isaiah 9:6 again. Because God is awake and hears our cry, He invites us to –

Awaken to Mighty

Awaken to Wonderful

Awaken to Everlasting

Awaken to Peace

Where do you need God’s mighty help in your life? Where do you need a touch of wonderful counsel and care? Where do you need to know that this is not all, that something is Everlasting? Where do you need some heaven sent Peace?

Christ Jesus, born innocent and precious and tiny, has more power in His itty-bitty right pinky finger than we can imagine, but He deigns to bring hope to me, to my family, to my friends, to my church, to my world.

That night before Christmas was so dark, some seasons in our lives are dark as well. They feel like the night before and we are desperate just to get to the night after, but God is awake through all of it. He hears, child, He hears and never, never will we have to live without Jesus.

So whether it’s December or May, let’s live in the full knowledge and with thankfulness in our hearts, on our lips, that we have a God of Hope, a God who is Awake. Let’s drop the arguments, or at least set them aside for a wee bit and share this message with someone who needs it…

Wonderful Counselor

Mighty God

Everlasting Father

Prince of Peace

Our God is Awake.

fontcandy-43
The Night Before Christmas by Brandon Heath

Exploration:

Let’s enter the no judgement zone! Which way do you roll – Christmas early and often, or do you like to hold it off a bit to keep it special?

How do you think the message of a God that is awake can impact the hurting world, the complacent world, or the sin-sick world?

Which title speaks to you in a particular way today – Our God is…a Wonderful Counselor? a Mighty God? an Everlasting Father? or a Prince of Peace? How and why?

6 thoughts on “The Night before Christmas or What’s the proper time to start playing the Christmas tunes?”

  1. First of all, I really like the song you chose. Never heard it, but the Day After Thanksgiving I will start playing it. Haha! I am definitely an every-season-gets-a-turn kind of girl. The name Wonderful Counselor speaks to me right now. The counsel of the Holy Spirit as I transition into being a parent to adult children is the wisdom and voice I need. Thanks for a great devo!

  2. I am absolutely a Christmas everyday girl!! There are so many days throughout any given year (especially an election year) where I sing “We NEED a little Christmas…right this VERY minute”!!! I know this is a secular song, however when you belong to Christ any CHRISTmas song has Him in it!
    Christmas is Joy, happy, peace, excitement and I yearn to live there!
    God is awake…should wake up and shake up a hurting, complacent, sin-sick world!! I think to a certain extent we are all guilty of “tucking God away”. We read/do our daily devotions, we pray, we try to be God pleasing, we sing praises while we walk and clean house, but then we go about our business. BUT to see and read “WONDERFUL COUNSELOR, MIGHTY GOD, EVERLASTING FATHER, PRINCE OF PEACE, in the middle of an October day our hearts and spirit goes WOW!!!
    Mighty God speaks to me! A knee jerk reaction (for me) to anyone who is hurting is God can do, fix, mend anything. Yet so many times I fail to “give Him” the power He has!
    Once again, Heidi your devotions always reach my heart and make me think! I love them and I love you!

  3. I love Christmas and can play any off the songs about Jesus anytime, but I like to hold back on the celebration somewhat because we all need Advent. By the time the rest of the world gets to the actual Christmas season, they are ready to quit; but not me. 🙂

    The message of a God who is awake is amazing for this world. He loves, He cares, He provides, He sent Jesus, He forgives, He is present.

    It’s hard to pick one of those titles of God, but I guess Prince of Peace speaks most to me today. Work has been very stressful, and the rest of life doesn’t slow down for that. Thankful to know that even if life is crazy, God’s got this & me. He took care of my most important need already – salvation!

  4. I like to hold off a bit for Christmas, to let Advent be Advent. However, when our family focuses on Christmas, I am eager to listen to all kinds of Christmas music-from hymns to oldies (Bing Crosby, for example).

    I think the message that Christ desires to come to us is amazing.

    I think Wonderful Counselor is especially comforting to me today, as I sort through my late mother’s papers and keepsakes. A lot of history- some previously known to me, some unknown.

  5. The times I need to know that ‘this is not all’ are when I’m hemmed in by grumbling and discontent of parishioners when my instinct is to want to make everybody happy. I can’t make everybody happy. That shouldn’t be my goal. But the instinct is ever there. So then I try to mentally walk away from the anxiety it raises, remind myself that ‘this is not all’ and give it over to the Holy Spirit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *