Lights, Christmas trees, holiday parties, presents, carols, Rudolph, Santa, parades, advent candles, nativities, and food are just some of the features of the Chrismas season in America. Does just the mention of these items help you with the “Christmas Spirit?” For some of us, we are on “go” when it comes to Christmas and we are all in when it comes to decorating and enjoying the festivities of Christmas. However, what about when we are not?
Yesterday, I was visiting in the hospital and for some of the residents, Christmas won’t look like any of the features mentioned above. Four years ago on December 14, our nation endured the shooting of Kindergarteners and elementary students at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. Somehow singing “Jingle Bell Rock” and having parties didn’t seem appropriate. The peripherals of Christmas were revealed to be shallow and useless in providing joy for real pain. So we go back to the source of Christmas and see if there is any cause for joy that deals with the pain of a suffering world.
Isaiah 9:2, 6-7 states, 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. You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; 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.
Here we have the prophecy and observation that the world is evil and it is to a suffering world that Messiah comes. This child will be a Wonderful Counselor to a world lost and confused. He will be a Mighty God to the world that needs power to right the wrongs, He will be an Everlasting Father to the world that needs an enduring love. He will be a Prince of Peace to the world that is restless with strife.
We see the beginning of the prophecy fulfillment in some fields outside of Bethlehem. To society outsiders working just outside of the Herodium, Herod’s fortress for security, a heavenly announcement was made. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:11-12 ESV) Here God enters a dark and suffering world, not exempt from the suffering but enduring the suffering with us so that evil could come to an end. This news never gets old and produces the joyful heart, from which comes cheer.
Jarrod Scott (below is a field outside Bethlehem from my trip there in 2007)