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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Bobby Kates
Intern Student Minister, First Community Church, U.C.C., Dallas, TX
3rd Year M.Div., Brite School of Divinity

“How beautiful upon the mountains
      are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
who brings good news,
      who announces salvation,
      who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’
Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices,
      together they sing for joy;
for in plain sight they see
      the return of the LORD to Zion.
Break forth together into singing,
      you ruins of Jerusalem;
for the LORD has comforted his people,
      he has redeemed Jerusalem.
The LORD has bared his holy arm
      before the eyes of all the nations;
and all the ends of the earth shall see
      the salvation of our God.”
Isaiah 52:7-10

A Word of Hope

Isaiah presents us with a vision of hope, a vision of rebirth, of new beginnings on the Eve of Christ’s celebrated birth. This is a proclamation from on high, to shake us out of grief, fear and despair.

In the movie musical, “MAME”, Auntie Mame sang from the depths of the Depression, her depression, and perhaps ours too, “We need a little Christmas Now!” It’s been a rough year for everyone. Just as Isaiah says, “Break forth into singing,” know that God wants us too also. So let’s have a “Merry Christmas!” knowing we are on the Eve of our Savior’s Birth. God brings us to an eve of new beginnings for our lives, to rebuild them, resurrect them, just as the ruins of Jerusalem would be rebuilt over time. So, Live! Live! Live! As Mame Dennis would say.

I am also reminded of Auntie Mame telling us, “That life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!” For God truly does roll up a sleeve and ‘bares that holy arm’ to spread out “before the eyes of all the nations,” all of us, the ‘ultimate banquet’ in celebration of his son, Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ. This is a banquet for all, not just the few. It may never be everything we want, especially at this time of year, but hopefully, and assuredly, it is what we need right now. It is a comfort, if we allow it to be.

Isaiah, is the messenger upon that mountaintop, bringing the ‘Good News’ to both the people of Zion and to us today, saying “Your God Reigns,” our God has always reigned, will always reign, and not just for us --- but for all.

This is the ‘Good News’ that Isaiah brought then to a Zion, an Israel torn apart, plundered and nearly destroyed by the Babylonians. This same ‘Good News,’ Jesus of Nazareth would bring to an Israel, once again under the bondage of a foreign power, this time Rome. Today both these words by Isaiah and the promise of the Birth of Jesus, the Son of God, bring us renewed hope for revival. The revival of ourselves, our families, our relationships, our church, our nation, our world, --- for everyone.

When I read, “…before the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God,” I am reminded of an image. A devastating image once only seen by God, but now by all of us. This image was taken by Apollo 8 crewmember Bill Anders on December 24, 1968, forty-five years ago.

“For God so loved the world that God gave the only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” John 3:16

Merry Christmas to you, God. Thank you for the yearly gift of Jesus in our lives. We can never fully express our love for you. But in trying to do so, know our intentions, as we live our lives. May we always thank you again and again for the birth, the gift of your precious son. AMEN.

And a Merry Christmas to you and yours, and to all a good night!

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