Please Read Isaiah 61:1-4
What does this have to do with Christmas? There aren't even any shepherds, or angel proclamations. There are no stars or inns. There are no virgins or miraculous birth or dreams or nativity scenes or jingle bells or carols. There is not a single reindeer! Not. One.
None of the things that we celebrate at Christmas are in this text from Isaiah!
And yet this is perhaps my favorite advent scripture. Even without any reindeer.
What makes this text one of my favorites? How does it connect with the birth of Jesus? This, my friends, is the good news. This is why Christmas matters. This is what Jesus came to earth to do. This scroll from Isaiah is what Jesus unrolls in the temple in Luke 4:17-21.
Christmas is so joyous because it is the celebration of the birth of Jesus. We celebrate that birth because of the life and ministry that Jesus led. This is that ministry.
Had Jesus been the Messiah that some people had hoped for, some sort of a military conqueror, we would not celebrate Christmas. Had Jesus been the Savior by being a legalistic religious scholar, strictly interpreting human understanding of holy texts, we would not celebrate Christmas.
Instead, we have Emmanuel. God with us. We have a Christ who comes to bring good news to the oppressed. We have a Jesus who binds up the broken hearted. We have a God who comes to earth to bring liberty to captives and release to prisoners.
This humble yet radical ministry had humble but radical beginnings, and as we celebrate that beginning on Christmas morning, may we be mindful of the kind of God we are celebrating – the Christ who comes to bring good news to the oppressed. Emmanuel. God with us.
God with us, revealed in us – we are eternally grateful for your presence in our lives. We celebrate the beginning of this presence when we celebrate Christmas. We celebrate the humble and radical ministry that you brought and continue to bring into the world through Jesus the Christ. It is in his name we pray, Amen.
Rev. Alan Dicken
Carthage Christian Church, Cincinnati
Regional Church Council, Ohio Delegation to Chile