The season of promise.....
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” - Isaiah 7:14
As hard as it is to believe, we find ourselves at the end of one of the strangest years in recent history. Christmas time is usually filled with endless celebrations, family gatherings, church plays & cantatas, school parties, and countless activities. But for many of us, this year will look quite different. With cases of COVID-19 surging in most areas, many of our plans may have been adjusted or even canceled. It’s been a long and hard year, much of which has been spent staying away from some of those we love. It certainly has been a year that many have experienced the pain of separation and loneliness, and at a time of year where we are accustom to celebrating together, there are those who may feel the separation even more now.
But the truth is that many always feel that pain this time of year. As I have pastored over these years, I have grown to sense how deep those pains can be for those who have lost loved ones. In a season of “togetherness”, they can no longer be together with the ones they love. It can be a challenge to embrace those traits of the season, joy, hope, love, peace, when grief and loneliness overwhelm our senses. Here is the truth though. Christmas is a reminder that God fulfilled and is fulfilling a promise so that we may never know the pain of separation again. And not just from those we love, but most significantly, from him!
As Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 7:14, we remember his coming, or advent, to be “with us”. We see this prophesy fulfilled in the gospels, and Luke tells of those shepherds who first heard this promise: “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.(Luke 2:11)” That is what we take hope in at Christmas, a Savior! Christ who came, dwelt among us, lived a life without sin, and laid down that same life that we might be eternally saved from the torment and pain of eternal separation. As Paul reminds us in Romans 8 nothing “will separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”. It is my prayer for each of you and for me that in this most unusual of Christmas seasons, we would remember the promise and hope of Immanuel. God is with us, and because of this, our Christmas can be Merry indeed!
O come, O come, Immanuel, and ransom captive Israel that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel shall come to you, O Israel.