Isaiah 35:3-6 “Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; 4 say to those with fearful hearts,
‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.’ 5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. 6 Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.”
A few years ago Christians were upset about people saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” While I suppose that we could be a little sad that Christmas isn’t universally celebrated, the truth is that for many, “Merry Christmas” were just empty words anyway. We can rejoice however in the many opportunities we have to talk about our hope in Christ this Advent season. In our neighborhood we tend to see our neighbors a little more often with all the comings and goings of the Holidays. We give small gifts to our neighbors and they give them to us and we have moments to talk about things a little deeper than the normal conversations about the weather or our dying lawns.
Christmas time is pregnant with opportunities for those Advent conversations. Even our secular society can’t help itself as stores are playing songs that explicitly declare the gospel message. Think about these lyrics from Mariah Carey’s “Jesus Born on This Day.”
Today, a child is born on earth
(Today, a child is born on earth)
Today the glory of God shines everywhere
For all the world
Oh, Jesus born on this day
He is our light and salvation
Oh Jesus born on this day
He is the King of all nations
Or Carrie Underwood singing,
Yes Lord, we greet thee
Born this happy morning
O Jesus, to Thee be all glory given
Word of the Father,
Now in flesh appearing
O come, let us adore him!
These are songs you might hear in the grocery store or at the mall declaring that Christ the King has come save! But even more, Advent is a time for us to be ready to speak. We in fact are commanded to speak. As we talk with our neighbors and share in their distress at the state of the world we have opportunity to “strengthen feeble hands, and steady the knees that give way.” As we talk to people who are afraid, we can be bold to say “Be strong, do not fear; God HAS come.” When it seems like the wicked thrive and no one will check them, we can say, “he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” And then we must be faithful to point them to the reason God has come. He came to die to save mankind from our sin and to reconcile us back to God.
While it may feel like the night is winning, the light is still shining. In fact the light is only getting brighter. Open your eyes to the grace all around you, and then open your mouth and share it. Sing it, hum it, whistle it, play it, repeat it, but don’t be quiet about it.