Originally published Monday, 16 December 2013.
Today I'm sitting with one Bible translation opened to the Old Testament, another translation opened to the New Testament and my computer screen filled with words from the Gospels of the Christmas story (New Testament, of course, too). If I say it once, I will say it so many many times again, my Awe and Wonder today is just simply (yet not so simply) reveling in the continuity of God's Word through every single page of the Bible. When God says He will do something, He surly does it! When prophets of old in ancient days heard from God and proclaimed that our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace (remember Isaiah9:6 from last week) will come and be born in the town of Bethlehem, we now know His word is TRUE. This reminds me to experience that TRUTH in every aspect of my Bible reading. When God says He gives us the fruit of the Spirit filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control...that is TRUTH. When God's word says that we are forgiven and there is no condemnation for those who love Jesus...that is TRUTH. We can count on God doing what He proclaims He will do. Do you see the Awe and Wonder in that today? Oh I hope so.
Today's Advent Scripture from THE VOICE Advent Readings: Isaiah 52:7
Ah, how beautiful the feet of those on the mountain who declare the good news of victory, of peace and liberation, The voice that calls to Zion, that chosen place for God’s promise people, announcing to them “Your God rules!”
I'd like for us to revisit the shepherds up on the cold dark mountains watching their sheep by night that first Christmas. Through this Scripture in Isaiah I can't help but think of the ever familiar Christmas carol, "Go Tell It On The Mountain." I also can't help but remember time and again in Christmas services where the children would gather on the stage in their shiny Christmas green and reds and whites (some girls wearing frilly dresses, some boys with pristine little bow ties on just for Christmas Eve service. Ties which I'm certain were ripped off their necks at first chance back in the car after church!) I hear the echos of little children passionately singing...no yelling...Go it on the mountain. Over the hills and every where! There were always one or two kids who I know practiced these verses so hard at home and you could see how their intensity shone. And they made their mamas proud.
The Angles alerted the shepherds of the glorious birth of their long awaited King.
Luke chapter 2 tells us that after the shepherds hurried to the stable to greet the little baby in the manger; after they looked upon Him with their own Awe and Wonder, the men spread the word through out the land. They told of this good news. Do you think they ran to their neighbors house with baited breath? Do you think they talked so fast that those listening begged them to slow down in order to grasp the enormity of the story? Do you think they felt or even realized that they, humble men of the fields (men of no stature or social standing), just became integral figures in the unfolding of the greatest night in the history of the world? Part of me thinks they didn't go that far in their mind for there was too much to do...too much to think of otherwise. Too many people who needed to hear of the birth of the Messiah.
When the night quieted, when the shepherds finally laid their heads down to sleep (who could sleep after a night like that?!) I wonder if their feet ached after carrying them all over the region to spread the word. We know they told many for Luke 2: 18 tells us that,
Everyone who heard their [the shepherd's] story couldn’t stop thinking about its meaning.
Awe and Wonder
Our Advent reading for today tells us that the feet of those that go and tell the good news, the good news of our King who brings victory and peace and liberation and forgiveness and freedom and a holy connection with the Almighty, those feet are beautiful. Let's pair our Advent reading with a passage in Romans which quotes Isaiah and brings in some New Testament context.
How can people invoke His name when they do not believe? How can they believe in Him when they have not heard? How can they hear if there is no one proclaiming Him? How can some give voice to the truth if they are not sent by God? As Isaiah said, “Ah, how beautiful the feet of those who declare the good news of victory, of peace and liberation.” But some will hear the good news and refuse to submit to the truth they hear. Isaiah the prophet also says, “Lord, who would ever believe it? Who would possibly accept what we’ve been told?” So faith proceeds from hearing, as we listen to the message about God’s Anointed. (Romans 10:14-17 THE VOICE)
If we believe God's TRUTH, let's shout it from the mountains! Now, shouting can take many different forms and mountains can look differently for everyone regarding our metaphor here. Sometimes shouting from the mountain looks like actions or things we do in ministry towards others. (We are all commissioned to be ministry workers in our own sphere of influence!) Sometimes proclaiming TRUTH means we love those who seemingly are unlovable. Sometimes living TRUTH means we actual live out what we say we believe. But, let us always be ready to actual speak about the good news that Jesus saves. Let us always know what we believe and why we believe it and be ready to speak that.
Journal: Just as the dawn began to break and the shepherds for many days afterward shared the majestic story of Jesus' birth, their feet were tired from walking out the TRUTH. I'm sure their sandals were caked with dust from walking out and telling the Awe and Wonder in which they experienced. Take some time to write out ways you can proclaim God's TRUTH with your actions as well as your words during this Advent season.
Thoughts? Questions? Anything to add? Leave a comment...let's chat!