The Good News of Deliverance
61 The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
3 to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
4 They shall build up the ancient ruins,
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.
8 For I the Lord love justice,
I hate robbery and wrongdoing;[a]
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 Their descendants shall be known among the nations,
and their offspring among the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge
that they are a people whom the Lord has blessed.
10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to spring up before all the nations.
It is the busiest time of year for us all. As a musician, I have long understood that while others are busy shopping, wrapping packages, sending Christmas cards, decorating their homes and putting up the Christmas tree, I’m at the piano working on music. Sometimes there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. My mother was the “Queen of Christmas Decorating.” Beginning the weekend after Thanksgiving, my mother would haul box after box of her Christmas decorations from the basement. There was the porcelain angel choir on the mantel, with my 11th grade math project resting on the hearth, a tri-fold felt, iron-on patch and plastic jewel Three Wise Men. (I had followed a pattern from a Christmas magazine). Every nook and cranny of my parents’ home was decorated for Christmas, even the door knobs. With the annual Christmas cantata weekend now over, I thought about all the things I still had to do and then I stopped myself. The reality is that I haven’t sent Christmas cards every year. If I don’t decorate my home for Christmas, the items will still be in the box to put out next year. Today’s reading from Isaiah really extols the Good News! People in exile, people who are oppressed, brokenhearted, captives, prisoners. We may feel that these passages are not relevant to us in today’s world, but I would disagree. At one point in our lives, perhaps even now, many of us experienced broken-heartedness, captivity, or feeling like prisoners. Although we may not physically be in prison walls, we may feel that we are being held captive by a job, debt, family crisis, or other challenges we face. Not meaning to sound trite, I don’t want to be a prisoner to Christmas decorating. God has made an eternal covenant with us and we have heard the good news. He has richly blessed us, let’s not be prisoners to what we think we must do before Christmas. Let’s focus on hope, peace, joy, love, and Jesus. And if you come to my home, you will find a wreath on the door, a sprig of red, green, and yellow ornaments in a plant on the porch and a nativity set inside. That’s it. No tree, no porcelain angels, no tri-fold wise men. But you are welcome to stop by anyway. Let’s share the Good News as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, our Savior.
Lord Jesus, we celebrate the good news of your birth! Help us unclutter our lives with things that don’t really matter and focus on hope, peace, joy, love and Jesus. In your name we pray. Amen.