Today is the first day of the advent season. Usually, I skip right past advent and think only about Christmas. How easy it is to get caught up in buying gifts, Santa, [final exams], and shopping malls.

I need to remember “the reason for the season,” if we’re willing to overlook that horrible cliche. Jesus Christ, the son of God, came down from heaven as a BABY. Whoa whoa whoa. How humbling it must have been–what love he must have for his people.

Isaiah 9:6 is considered to be one of the most important prophecies in the Old Testament. You might know it from Handel’s Messiah, “For unto us a child is born.” It is one of those verses that I know very well, and it easily loses its meaning for me. I decided to look it up in The Message, and love the way it was translated here:

For a child has been born—for us! The gift of a son–for us!
He’ll take over the running of the world.
His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness.
His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.

This baby, who probably drooled and cried, became the prince of wholeness. He was born unto us, for us. For me. For you.

If you would, take some time to reflect on this poem by Joshua Banner. It brought me to my knees.

Meditation on Isaiah 9

Unto us a child is born,
unto all of us.
Unto the widow,
unto the homeless,
the addict,
the AIDS patient.

Unto us the football captain
and the drag queen.
Unto us the politician,
the factory blue collar,
us the single mother,
the crack baby,
and unto us the affluent suburbanite.

Unto us the Goth,
the hippie,
the rocker,
the alternative and underground.
Unto us in Hollywood and on Madison Avenue
and unto all of us in between.
Unto us in the gutters of Calcutta,
unto the Muslim,
and the Jew,
the Buddhist,
the Krishna and the Hindu.
Unto us the fatherless.
Unto the heavenly fatherless.

For unto us a child is born
a son is given
and a secret revolution begun.
This is what the prophets had been preparing for.
They said his name would be,
“Most Beautiful Wisdom,”
“the Highest of Heaven’s Secrets.”

His name would be,
“the God who continually bends over backwards for you,”
“the God who gets down on his hands and knees,”
“the God who would become silly and mis-understood,”
“the God who would be mocked- – the God whose name
would be taken in vain.”

He would be called
“the God of underdogs,”

“the God of the powerless and unspiritual,”

“the God of those who cannot pray or fast.”

And there would be no end to him and his
underdog weaklings or their secret.
There would be no end even
while the nations continue to rage on.
Even as ethnos rises against ethnos,
even as valleys are filled with dead bones
and rivers run with blood.
Even as violence runs through our streets
and schools and hearts
covering us like a thick fog.

Even in this dark land of weak people
the God who bends over backwards
will shine forth like a great light
as the dawning of a new day
letting his secret spread forth with healing and joy.

Drop the mirror and let it shatter
Crush the hourglass and stop the clocks ticking.
Stand still.
Hold your breath.
your wildest dreams.
Sell everything and buy the farm.
Come with me, cover your eyes and hold out your hands.
Stop your weeping,
stop your groans,
the fast is over.
Let the celebration begin
the father has come.
He has sent his son
Unto us He has been born,
even unto us.

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