For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
As one of the most well-known Bible verses shared at Christmas, Isaiah's verse of descriptive names gives us a lot to think about. In his message to the people of Israel, Isaiah prophesied the birth of a child who would fulfil the promises made to their ancestors. This predicted Messiah would reign with titles and qualities attributed to God. With the help of the Holy Spirit, Isaiah encouraged a struggling nation with words of hope.
Our nation and many others around the globe need words of hope at this time. We live in a world where there are wars, environmental disasters and where some lives are not considered to be as important as others. There are also ongoing issues around the basic need for food, shelter, and heating. Our newspapers and television screens are full of awful situations such as young people being killed in knife attacks or shootings in the streets of our towns and cities.
Our response to these issues should be prayer and wherever possible should also be practical. There are many agencies who can undertake the practical on our behalf – if we fund them responsibly – but praying for these situations is always our personal responsibility.
As James Montgomery wrote (Singing the Faith 529):
Prayer is the soul's sincere decide, uttered or unexpressed,
the motion of a hidden fire that trembles in the breast.
My dear sisters and brothers in Christ, may I urge you to release that hidden fire, for the situations that you have noticed, through your prayers.
I trust that you will encounter the Jesus prophesied by Isaiah: our Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace this Christmas, and every day, and that you may live in joyous hope.
I pray that this Christmas we will all be open to hear and share the message of hope, joy, and peace that our risen saviour brings to our bruised world.
Happy Christmas and a blessed New Year to you all!
Rev. John Hughes