First Reading (Christmas Eve): Isaiah 62:1-5

The Christmas Spirit

1 For Zion's sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until her righteousness go forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns. 2 The nations shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of YHWH shall name. 3 You shall also be a crown of beauty in the hand of YHWH, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. 4 You shall no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall your land any more be termed Desolate: but you shall be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for YHWH delights in you, and your land shall be married. 5 For as a young man marries a virgin, so your sons shall marry you; and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so your God will rejoice over you.

World English Bible

Are you in the Christmas spirit? What does it take to capture that spirit?

The journey of adult life is lined with times of depression and times of exaltation. While we might not experience the highs and the lows of those diagnosed as "bi-polar," certainly we are not immune to the emotional roller coaster that is called "life." The Christmas season itself can be filled with lows and highs; it is, as if, Christmas concentrates the emotions we all feel.

(So-called) Third Isaiah wrote to the well worn citizens of Jerusalem. The excitement of the return was over; now the work of rebuilding was so well under way, it had become drudgery. Many in the city could not see beyond the next project to be addressed in the reconstruction. No one expected to see the glory of the city return; no one, that is, except the author.

The author foresaw Zion rise to new heights, and he took upon himself the prophet's mantle to proclaim the news. He would not be quiet; he would continuously announce his prophecy until it came true. The city would be vindicated; nations would return to pay tribute as in the time of Solomon. YHWH would give the city a new name that would rest on the city like a crown on a new bride. Instead of a reputation of "forsaken" and "desolate," the city would be known as the "delight" of the Lord and his "bride." Through the gift of the new name, the fortune of the city would change from one rejected to one held close. Reflecting the image of husband and wife found in the prophet Hosea, God would rejoice in his people, like a new husband rejoiced in his bride.

The author tried to rally a city that wallowed in a spiritual funk. He now calls us out of our spiritual low. The time of Advent is gone. The time for Christmas is here. It is time to get caught up in the mood of the season. Christ is born. God has come close to his people. Alleluia!

Take time to focus on the gift of Christ in your life. How has his presence changed you? How can you praise and thank God for his intimacy?