Pastor Andrew Hinderlie
December and Christmas Pondering 2023
Isaiah 9: 6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no bend, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”
How often have we seen one of the many Christmas movies that are out there: A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, the various Santa Clause movies, It’s A Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, and my favorites the various Christmas Carol’s though I think Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol is one of my favorites. There are a plethora of Christmas movies out there. And why do we watch them every year? Because they make us feel good, the bring back even childhood memories even if we know the end.
Well, the same is true of the Christmas Story that culminates this month of December with the Birth of our Savior Jesus the Christ but we have to get there through Advent and it is during Advent that we hear the prequels to Jesus’ arrival. For us we know the whole story, but picture yourself in Jesus’ time, people under the thumb of an Autocratic despot who was under the thumb of the foreign government of Rome. As you picture yourself there what might be the one thing that kept you going? For those Jews then they held onto the promise that their prophets gave them…wait for it…yup Hope. Hope of a Messiah to come who would save them.
It was the words of the prophets like Isaiah that gave this hope which kept them looking to that day even though there was fear and suffering, hope kept alive in faith. It is in this time of Advent that we too live in hope despite all the voices out there that try to drown out the hope with fear and trembling and hate, God’s word speaks to us in the midst of it all and instead of letting the world draw us into those feelings, God draws us out of it and into the promise that has already been fulfilled.
So instead of cowering in fear, we can boldly proclaim the Good News of Christmas, the closing words of another play/movie “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever”, a play being performed in a chuch, when one of the main characters tough little girl Gladys Herdman points to the audience at the play, “Hey! Hey, unto you a child is born!” For unto us a child was born that night in Bethlehem, who is Christ the Lord, and for us we live in the promise and hope fulfilled. May this Advent and Christmas Season remind all of us that we are all blessed and all Children of God, none excluded and let us share that with those during this season who may need to know or be reminded of it. And in the words of Tiny Tim, “God bless us everyone!’
I leave you with the first verse of one my parents favorite Advent hymns “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus”: “Come, thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free; from our fears and sins release us; let us find our rest in thee. Israel’s strength and consolation hope of all the earth thou art, dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.” Text Charles Wesley, 1707-1788 Music: W. Walker, Southern Harmony 1835