Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
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.
She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means, “God is with us.”
DEVOTION by Pastor Drew Sams
A very joyful and merry Christmas to you as you celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus. As you have journeyed with the broader Bel Air Church family during this Advent season, you have also journeyed with followers of Jesus around the globe who have chosen to interrupt the normal speed and pace of their lives to reflect on the fact that God has come to us, and dwelt with us, and given us new life.
These selected passages in Isaiah (written many hundreds of years before the Gospel according of Matthew), reveal to us what God is going to do before God does it and how we can join God at work. Not only does Isaiah 9:6 reveal the memorable truth that “a child has been born for us….and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace,” but Isaiah 2:3 reveals the response many will have when “many peoples shall come and say, ‘come, let us go…that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” Additionally, Matthew 1:21–23 is a direct quotation from Isaiah 7:14 where this child shall be called Emmanuel which means, “God with us.”
The birth of Jesus is the incarnation of God AND the invitation from God.
It is the fullness of God present in Jesus AND it is the fullness of a vibrant life that we can participate in.
It is a joyful event in the past AND it is a joyful experience in the present.
On this day, the day we have chosen to set aside as the celebration of our Savior’s birth, choose to embrace the Son of God again in your life. Consider the invitation for Jesus to “teach you his ways” and the resolve to “walk in his paths.” Reflect on the authority resting on the shoulders of Jesus who alone is qualified to be your Lord, Savior, Counselor, and King. Marvel at the wisdom of God through Isaiah to look ahead and the wisdom of God through Matthew to reflect back as they wrote down everlasting Truth despite centuries of distance between them.
MY CHRISTMAS MEMORY:
Now that Erika and I are parents, we are intentionally creating memories for our boys Judah (7) and Barrett (2) that focus all the joy and celebration of Christmas towards Jesus. Conversations about presents, Santa, reindeer, Christmas trees, Christmas lights, and food all are seen in light of the overarching truth that Jesus is the reason for the season. For example, we talk about Saint Nicholas who was a follower of Jesus and bishop of the early Church who gave to the poor and needy. In a season that seems to have become about “what you get” for Christmas, we talk about “what we give” for Christmas like Saint Nicholas and most of all, like Jesus who gave his all for us and gave his all for the world!