For the church, we now enter into the season of Advent. This is a Latin term, which means “the arrival of, anticipation of, or preparation for.”
As we prepare our hearts for the season of Advent and the celebration of Jesus’ birth, let us also prepare our minds to understand the context in which Jesus enter into human history.
One of the best places to turn for this, is the prophets. The prophets are interesting dudes. If by interesting you mean things like, Isaiah walked around naked for several years to convey God’s message and Hosea married a prostitute to prove Israel’s true relationship to God.
And yet, the prophets served as an alternative voice of reason among the people. Commissioned and empowered by God, the prophets would call the people back to obedience to God and foretell the consequences that come with falling away from God.
Isaiah is one of those prophets. It’s a tough book filled with warnings and disappointments from God to the people. Yet Isaiah stepped forward with a bold glimpse into what God will do for the world. He said in Isaiah 9:2-7:
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, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder.
For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.
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, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
For the people first receiving this message, they would not experience its fulfillment. Yet the desire for God to move and act in their lives was no less.
I wonder if we still see the world yearns for God to move and to act. Do we believe that the world still needs Jesus to bring light, joy, and peace?
As Norman Vincent Peale wrote, “Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.”
Therefore, may we prepare our hearts for his coming. May we prepare our hearts for his loving transformation.
May we prepare our hearts for his calling in our lives to go forth into the darkness and hurting with a blazing light of hope and restoration.
May we prepare our hearts, now with ribbons, gifts, and evergreens; but most of all, (or also) for great anticipation of what God is doing in the world.
May we be a faith community preparing for what is here and what is to come. May we be prepared to be the living message of this season of wonder, hope, joy, peace, and love.