Thanksgiving is almost here; we will soon be fatter than we were. What else do we need. I know; the exercise of the Christmas season. Yep, it is right around the corner. The Christmas programs are scheduled. The choir is warming up. The decorations are out and being put in their places. We soon will be facing holiday traffic and parking nightmares at the malls. The fear of having left someone off the gift list will become real again. We will check and double check that we have not done more for one than another. Whew! I already feel lighter.
But this is really what Christmas is NOT about. It is about peace, security and the presence of our God with us and like other holidays we all understand that we should have these feelings and devotions all year long. But we don’t! So the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas day helps us to remember.
Between now and Christmas I want to look at seven people in the bible that will help us to have that Christmas attitude (no, not the one that you have when someone zips in front of you to steal that parking place) all year long. Jesus is not simply the “reason for the season”, He is the “reason beyond the season”.
Isaiah, the Old Testament prophet, had grown up during the reign of Uzziah. This Jewish king had been renowned for his efforts of religious reform and his own personal devotion. This example impacted and a nation and the life of the young prophet. His death cast a long shadow over the nation and all that was righteous began to spiral down.
The young prophet began to look deeper for God’s working in his nation and God honored that devotion with the picture of His majesty and care for the world. In chapter nine Isaiah is given a word of hope and security. “For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. . .” (Is 9:6-7)
It was this message that transformed the young prophet with a message of hope for God’s people. Isaiah witnessed many terrible things that future kings would do and his own people stepping farther and farther from God. But this message was taken to heart and Isaiah never forgot that ultimately God is in control and has worked in the past, is working now and will continue to work in the future. That is the message of Christmas.
Many across our nation and world today face each day with little hope. They fail to see God working or believe that because things are not like they want them then God must have stepped back and no longer cares for them. I do not believe that everything that happens is “caused” by God or is even in His perfect will. But this I do believe that God cares and everything can in some way be worked for good.
To Isaiah the message was a child would be born. . . To us today the message is that a Child has been born. It has already happened. God has and is dwelling with us now during this beautiful season of Christmas and in the Dog Days of August. We must simply believe enough to look!