December 20

Isaiah 9:6-7

“For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” vs. 6

Early Christians knew the Hebrew scriptures like the backs of their hands, and after Jesus’s death and resurrection they found dozens of references in the law and the prophets that verified their conviction that Jesus was the messiah. This little verse from Isaiah was well known to them and they quickly connected it to the stories of Jesus’ birth that had arisen among them. In their eyes the Christ was indeed the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and, above all, the Prince of Peace. Many of us know these attributes, not so much from scripture, but from Handel’s Oratorio, arguably the most popular performance piece of the holiday season. Hearing these verses sung by a gifted choir can send chills up our spines and fill our hearts with gladness. The beauty of the choruses makes the popular Christmas songs of our culture seem obscene–there’s no silliness here, no Frosty or Rudolf–Handel’s Messiah is majestic and powerful, a fitting homage to the God-Man, Jesus Christ. We’ll be ending our Advent remembrances this weekend with worship that will most certainly feature the best efforts of our choirs and whole-hearted congregational singing. We may not be able to match the Herald Angels but our songs will come from the heart, and even the tone-deaf will be joining in! It really is the most joyous time of the year!

Thought for the Day: What is my favorite Christmas hymn?

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