Are we there yet?
Well, we’re almost there – I’ve closed the office for the year, cleaned out the work fridge, and turned on my email out of office message. All that’s left for me to do is the final grocery shop and food preparation. I might be getting there in terms of physical preparation, but I don’t think I’m there yet spiritually. So tonight I need to pause and invite the Christmas story to weave its way through my heart and holiday hopes.
I’ve turned to Isaiah in the Bible. Hundreds of years before Jesus came Isaiah spoke of a child who would be the beginning of something new.
Talk of a baby emerges in the middle of a conversation about how bleak things are – and then in Isaiah 9:1 the tone of the conversation starts to change. Suddenly Isaiah proclaims, ‘Those who walked in the dark have seen a bright light. And it shines upon everyone who lives in the land of darkest shadows.’[i]
Immediately I connect with this portrayal of the Christmas story. Because our world seems pretty dark just now, and living in my region certainly feels like living in a land of darkest shadows. We’ve had our fair share of tragedies this year. Sometimes it’s even been our own hearts that have felt dark.
Isaiah continues, ‘A child has been born for us. We have been given a son…’[ii] With these words Isaiah offers a hint of hope. This gift is for us; this child has been given to us.
Isaiah demonstrates how perfect this gift is for us by choosing four names to describe him. The first is ‘Wonderful Counsellor’ or ‘Wise Guide’. And to get through Christmas don’t we need that! This gift includes a wise counsellor and guide just for us. Yet a counsellor is of no use unless we talk to them! A guide is of no use unless we listen to them! So although this gift is given to us it does require action from us if we are to benefit from it.
Isaiah’s next name is ‘Mighty’ or ‘Strong God’. It’s hard to do Life on our own, just using our own resources. Here’s reassurance that God is strong enough to handle our stuff. Here’s a promise that this God is tough enough to see us through the hardest aspects of this Christmas season.
Isaiah’s third name for Jesus is a ‘Father who is forever’ – a father who will not walk out on us or abandon us, ever. It seems our hearts often long for a father figure. Yet no human will ever perfectly meet this need. However, in this child is the promise of a dependable, solid father figure. This is a timely reminder when expectations of family members so often trip us up over the Christmas dinner table.
Isaiah’s final name is ‘Prince of Peace’. Can’t we all do with some extra peace of heart and mind just now? Imagine being calm, peaceful, untroubled and unflappable this close to Christmas! Sounds like the perfect Christmas gift to me!
So are we there yet? I suspect that as we receive these four qualities of the Christ-child we will find we have finally arrived at our Christmas destination.
[i] Isaiah 9:2 (Contemporary English Version)
[ii] Isaiah 9:6 (Contemporary English Version)