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.
Is it beginning to look a lot like Christmas? Does the Advent Wreath grace your table or an Advent calendar hang on the wall? Have you placed greenery on your door and hung some lights? Is the kitchen redolent with the aroma of baking? Perhaps carols are playing on the radio, and you hum along.
By this time of the month the season often takes on a life of its own that is accompanied by a feverish drive to “get it all done” and “create the magic of the season.”
Many stores have been playing Christmas music and displaying trees before the Halloween candy was off the shelf. Displays of gifts beckon us to part with our hard-earned money; we are urged to make this the best Christmas ever through the temporary gratification afforded by more “stuff.”
Of course there’s a meal or two to plan, and maybe travel arrangements to make, too. Even our worship life and faith community activities tend to kick it up a notch or two–more services, cantatas, Sunday school programs, service projects, and extra choir practices. Are you tired yet? Feeling a little bit stressed and grumpy? Are we there yet?
Well, the answer to that last question is a resounding NO. The day we mark observe God’s breaking into our world in the form of a helpless baby boy is still distant. We may be ready for Christmas to be here and gone again; after all there’s a lot of work involved in this season, but we’re not there yet! All the extra activity, expenditures, and planning can make it hard to heed Paul’s words of encouragement in the reading from 1 Thessalonians to continually live in a spirit of joy, prayer, and thanksgiving.
So take a deep breath, silence the carols and the movies, step out of the kitchen, put down that list of things to buy and do, and turn to the 61st chapter of Isaiah. Now read the words and sit with them. Remember, it’s Advent–not Christmas just yet.
There is good news in these verses announced by the prophet. The spirit of the LORD is active in the proclaiming of this good news to those who sorely need to hear it–those who are brokenhearted, oppressed, mourning, imprisoned, and held captive. The God of Israel loves justice and desires to set us free. This is the passage that Jesus chose to announce the beginning of his ministry in Luke 4, and these words are just as applicable to us today as they were to the people of God returned from exile.
Even as the wheels of the consumer machine try to drive us ever forward into Christmas, resist the temptation and give in to the joy, the anticipation, and the good news that comes with Advent. We’re not there yet, and there is joy in the journey. Steward your time and resources wisely this year, resist the rush, and focus on the light of Christ that comes again into the world.
Copyright (c) 2008, The Rev. Sharron Lucas, all rights reserved. Used by permission.