BY JEFFREY H. SYPOLE
“For a child has been born for us, a son is given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; And he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His authority shall grow continually and there shall be endless peace. He will establish and uphold it with justice and righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.” ~ Isaiah 9:6-7
How much we need the gift of the Christ Child, the “Prince of Peace”! Certainly, we all observe the lack of peace in our culture and world—even in our churches. Indeed, I readily see “unpeace” in myself. I violate peace, not only in hasty words or angry attitudes, but also in failing to be the reconciler Jesus calls his followers to be.
So much of our culture’s unpeace arises because of greed, our proliferating needs, and wants. How easily, especially at Christmastime, we and our children concentrate on all the “stuff” we want.
No matter how many presents we accumulate, there is always something else to be had—better toys, newer models, fancier clothes, faster computers, and smarter phones. As time goes by, toys break, the excitement wanes, and we discover the truth of the Preacher’s words: “All is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:2).
If we prepare for the true gift of Christmas, we discern the source of our yearnings in our profound thirst for God. That awareness frees us from our need to accumulate and grooms us to participate in our Prince’s reign, which he continues to establish and uphold “with justice and with righteousness” (Isaiah 9:7).
How much we need the Christ Child! We cannot free ourselves from the lack of peace in the world, because there is violence and there are injustices, some even subtle, against those near and far.
That consciousness prevents any romanticizing of Christ’s birth. He came into, and himself experienced, exactly such darkness, poverty, oppression, and confusion. And to all of us “people walking in darkness,” he has brought “a great light” (Isaiah 9:2).
Moreover, because “the light [of his salvation] has dawned” upon us, we are transformed by his Spirit’s power into a new people who join in his work of peacemaking and justice building—always knowing that “the zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this” (Isaiah 9:7), and not our own efforts. The Lord, the covenant of God, will accomplish the reconciling of the cosmos and embrace us in Christ’s reign to embody his purposes!
He is the “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6), who defeated the powers of darkness that threaten, hinder, usurp, and destroy the world’s peace. Now, in this in-between time before God’s reign comes to total fruition, “His authority shall grow continually,” and consequently, “there shall be endless peace” (Isaiah 9:7).
For the world, Christmas has become a commercialized frenzy of crazed shoppers who trample each other underfoot while trying to get a good deal. They have forgotten what Christmas is about. For the Christian, Christmas is a time of celebration of the birth of the Lord in our world, who came to bring peace and salvation. Isaiah 9 is a prophecy that is fulfilled in Jesus. His birth is our redemption, our blessing, our cleansing, and our hope.
May peace abound in your life, knowing that the Christ Child has come! Let the “Son” shine in your home this Christmas and into the New Year!
Love and Blessings this Christmas,