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Every year around this time, you’ll find church choirs around the world practicing a piece of music that is based on just one verse from the prophet Isaiah. The piece, from Handel’s Messiah, rejoices that a son has been born, “And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace” (see Isaiah 9:5).
Isaiah wrote these words around the eighth century BC. The people of Jerusalem were living through a time of upheaval, and everyone was looking for relief. Isaiah promised that this relief would come in the form of a new king, a “child” upon whose shoulders all “dominion” would rest (Isaiah 9:5).
Fast-forward to today. We all feel the upheaval caused by terrorism, inner-city violence, racial strife, and the plight of millions of refugees. There is so much fear and insecurity in the world! All these problems can seem so powerful that we forget the promise of Christmas, that Jesus is “Emmanuel,” God with us.
God is with us—and he came as a helpless baby. But considering the darkness in the world, how can we put our faith in a little child? It would be difficult under normal circumstances. But Jesus is not your typical baby. First there was the angel inviting Mary to become the Mother of God. Then there was Joseph’s dream, when the angel asked him to stay with Mary. Then even more angels appeared to shepherds glorifying God. There was even a star that led wise men from the East to the child. That’s about as far from typical as you can get! But as the angel told Mary, “Nothing will be impossible for God” (Luke 1:37).
Not Just a Theory. So who is this baby for whom nothing is impossible? As Wonderful Counselor, he teaches us the way to live. As Mighty God, he gives us the power to live according to the way he taught. As Everlasting Father, he walks with us and encourages us along the way. And as Prince of Peace, he offers us his consolation as we face the challenges of life.
This is not just a theory, and it’s not just something that happened two thousand years ago. This Advent, we want to explore how we can experience each of these characteristics of Jesus ourselves. Each article contains stories from people who have had these experiences. I know all of these people personally, and I have seen firsthand how these experiences have changed their lives. Their names have been changed, but their stories are real, and they all tell us that Jesus is still at work today.
On behalf of everyone at The Word Among Us, I want to wish you a blessed and happy Christmas. May God’s blessings be on you and all your loved ones during this season.