What Child IS this?

"Familiarity breeds unfamiliarity."

Many people who grew up hearing the Christmas story might be at risk of letting the story grow stale in their hearts and minds.  We might think we "know" the Child in the manger...but do we?  When is the last time you asked yourself, honestly: "What child is this, who lay in a feeding trough, upon whom the hope of the world is said to rely.  Really...who IS this kid?"

Indeed, the season of hope, peace, joy and love is called CHRISTmas for a reason.  No, we don't have to write in to our local representatives to protest society's change of language to "holiday" for everything from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day.  But we who follow Christ must maintain the centrality of Christ at this time.  Otherwise, we could just call it "Giftmas."

Around seven centuries before Mary got the shocking news that she would bear the Messiah, the prophet Isaiah spoke into a terrifying situation.  The people of God were about to be invaded by hostile nations, and God made a promise that a child would be born to rescue them.  Read Isaiah 9:1-7.  Who would this child be?

1) Wonderful Counselor.  This child would be one whose counsel would be "wonderful," for which the Hebrew word means "supernatural."  His guidance and wisdom would be so profound that people would "wonder" at it, and where he could have possibly come from.

2) Mighty God.  The language here is of a warrior hero, who rescues his people.  Not only would he be "mighty" but also "God," that is, not merely a prophet, priest, or king, but the real deal.  God's own self, come to fight not human enemies but God's ultimate enemy.  And win.

3) Eternal Father.  Many people have painful associations with the image of God as our "Father," and they have good reason for those associations.  Many others do not.  The point is not to decide if the image is good or bad, but to focus on what the image of God as Father is meant to convey.  When you think of the ideal Parent, what do you imagine?  Now try to imagine a Parent who surpasses your greatest expectations.

4) Prince of Peace.  Wait -- the Christ-child would be a "warrior" (see above) and also the prince of "peace"?  How does that work?  This peace can refer to the absence of conflict, but it is also much more comprehensive.  This is all-encompassing peace, which transcends and outlasts our earthly circumstances and conflicts.  This is the peace that surpasses our understanding and points us in the direction of heaven, the Kingdom of God.  

All of these --
  • Wonderful Counselor
  • Mighty God
  • Eternal Father
  • Prince of Peace
lay in the manger on that Christmas day.  That is who this Child is.

- Has the story of Christmas become UNfamiliar to you over the years?  How can you keep it alive and fresh in your mind and heart?
- Which of the titles Isaiah gives the child resonate most with you, and why?

O Christ, who lay so vulnerable in the manger that day,
Will you please meet me as though it were the first time,
And show me how to say "yes" to you as my
and Prince of Peace?
In Jesus' mighty name, Amen.  

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