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.
6 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.
7 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…
Prince of Peace
Our God is Awake.
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?