‘The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest.’
‘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 Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’
Isaiah Ch.9:2-3 and 6 (ESV).
Those of you who grew up in the 70s and 80s may remember watching the TV programme Blue Peter and seeing them make an advent crown out of wire coat hangers, tinsel, and baubles in the run up to Christmas. Some of you may also have made them. Advent calendars are another way to count down the days to Christmas. I’ve started this tradition with my two sons – they’re in their 20s and 30s now and I still buy them a calendar each year.
As we begin to get busy during December, we rush to prepare our homes with decorations. We’re sorting out nativity plays and carol concerts with our GB groups and maybe planning an evening out to the local panto! Plus working out how many we’re having for Christmas dinner. During all this hectic planning, preparation and running around it can be difficult to take time out for reflection and seek peace.
In Isaiah Chapter 9 it’s prophesised about the birth of our Saviour, bringing us out of darkness. It’s a time of joy and rejoicing in the hope that is to come. I’ve just started the n:gage badge that looks at joy and Mary’s story. Mary was a faithful servant and felt joy at being picked for such a special role and knew how important her son was going to be. I’ve also noticed that joy is the theme of the Tesco Christmas advert this year. The current world could be a gloomy one, with all the issues of the cost-of-living crisis and the sin that’s around us, but, as in Isaiah, there’s a bright light of purity and joy on its way.
The Son of Man, whose birth we celebrate, has the following essential characteristics:
- Wonderful – He’s a miracle in himself, many great wonders are mentioned in Exodus and Psalms. He’s often beyond wonder, and we’re often in awe of his greatness
- Counsellor – He brings great wisdom to all situations and knowledge for us to rely on
- Mighty God – He’s our strong and mighty hero, our warrior who will be our judge
- Everlasting Father – He will be our Father of the age to come and will bless us forever
- Prince of Peace – Ephesians says ‘For he himself is our peace who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility.’ He brings us peace at times when situations make us divided.
These characteristics make me recall the chorus, popular in the 80s, called Wonderful Counsellor, which I haven’t sung in a long while. A modern version can be seen here.
May peace be with you, the children that are part of your Girls’ Brigade group and your families in the days leading up to Christmas. May you feel God’s presence in all that you do and wherever you go.
Dear Lord and Heavenly Father,
Thank you that we can share all our worries with you. Thank you for being our Prince of Peace and listening to us when we pray. At these times when we’re easily distracted with everyday preparations, may you grant us peace and be at the centre of all that we do. May we feel your peace, that peace which surpasses all understanding, so that our hearts and minds are guarded this Christmas time and always.
Bless us and keep us safe.
In Jesus name we pray, Amen.