A CHRISTMAS MESSAGE
READINGS: Fourth Sunday of Advent
“The virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). The prophecy of Isaiah regarding the birth of Christ came at a time when the Arameans and the rest of Israel were threatening to attack the land of Judah and make it desolate. God sent Isaiah the prophet to go and tell the king of Judah, Ahaz, that this aggression against God’s people “will not stand and shall not be” (Isaiah 7:7). God, therefore, promised the birth of “Immanuel”—God with us, to reassure His people, “Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication” (Isaiah 35:4).
It is important to note that the dangers that faced Judah, for which God promised the birth of Immanuel, symbolizes the many tribulations and iniquities that threaten our lives on daily basis. Our world is filled with many failed hopes and broken promises, failed relationships and broken homes, devastating illnesses, drug abuse, hopelessness, helplessness, depression, joblessness, lost investments, etc, On the other hand, the pursuit of power, wealth, fame, and prestige has replaced the quest for righteousness, dignity, piety, and justice. God’s solution for us in the presence of all these ills is Jesus Christ—the Problem-Solver and the Way-Maker. As Scripture says, “There is no other name given unto man by which he can be saved” (Acts 4:12).
The word “to save” comes from the Greek word “Soteria” which means “to be made whole”, “deliverance”, “restoration”, “healing”, “power to overcome”. The birth of Immanuel, in essence, means that God has established in our midst the power by which every iniquity can be overcome and to whom we can take every issue in our lives. Remember, at the wedding in Cana, when they ran out of wine, Mary took the matter to Jesus. When Jairus was in desperate need of saving her daughter, he took the matter to Jesus. When all medical help failed the woman with the issue of blood, she took the matter to Jesus. When Zacchaeus needed to turn things around in his life, he took the matter to Jesus. When the adulterous woman needed to rediscover herself as a child of God, she took the matter to Jesus. When the thief on the right side of Christ, at crucifixion, needed to save his life, he took the matter to Jesus. When a storm threatened to sink the boat in which the Apostles were traveling, they took the matter to Jesus. When Peter began to sink after daring to walk on water, he took the matter to Jesus. In all these cases and thousands more, Jesus took care of business.
Christmas, therefore, is that period when we remember the name God gave to us as our way-maker and problem solver; the name we can speak into every iniquity and dominion of darkness and overcome them; the Name we can appeal to in moment of adversity, the Name that can bring light and salvation into the darkness of sin and damnation.
How do we prepare for such a great celebration? Get rid from our hearts everything that belongs to Satan—lust, envy, jealousy, anger, wrath, debauchery, pride, lack of compassion, etc. Let us be reconciled with God, with others, and with ourselves. Let us continue to reach out to those on the margins of society and to Christ in suffering humanity. Merry Christmas!