The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
In days to come
the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised above the hills;
all the nations shall stream to it.
Many peoples shall come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn warany more.
O house of Jacob,
come, let us walk
in the light of the Lord!
Isaiah 2:1-5, NRSV
Every year it happens like clockwork, stores begin putting their Christmas decorations out and then comes the chorus of complaints, “They’re already putting out Christmas decorations and it not even Halloween yet!” Then comes the myriad of Facebook posts about keeping Christ in Christmas and the outcry against Holiday Trees and saying, “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” All of this happens because we have some very particular ways of celebrating Jesus’ birth and if it doesn’t happen that way, then the earth will explode – well, not really.
Every year people bemoan the commercialization of Christmas, and yet many of those people line up for Black Friday and pre-Black Friday sales. They scurry around trying to get all their Christmas shopping done in the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. Some are so good at planning that they have finished their shopping before Thanksgiving even gets here. Others brag that they got all their shopping done online and never had to leave the house. Then comes the inevitable charity appeals to help make sure children have a good Christmas, by which we mean get presents.
God's Idea of Christmas
However, have you ever taken the time to wonder what God’s idea of Christmas was? We all know the story of how he sent Jesus to be born of the Virgin Mary in a stable in Bethlehem. But why? What was God trying to accomplish by that act?
You get some idea when you read the songs of Mary, Zechariah, and Simeon. But to understand you should dig into the prophets of the Hebrew Bible. That is what we will do in worship as we prepare for Christmas this year.
Over the next four weeks, we will unwrap Christmas to discover God’s purposes for this special Holy Day. The passages we will explore in this series come from the Prophet Isaiah and have been used by the church for just this purpose for centuries.
Traditionally, the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day has been called the season of Advent. Advent comes from a Latin word that means “coming.” It was a time set aside by the Church long ago to celebrate Jesus’ first coming in the world and anticipate his second coming. It is a time to reflect, repent, and prepare for Jesus to come again. How would Christmas be different if we did that this year? Let’s find out.
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Alan Cassady serves as Senior Pastor at Navarre UMC, and has been at the church since 2011. When he's not preaching and teaching, he enjoys sci-fi movies and FSU Football. Read more about Alan here.