For a child has been born for us,
a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders;
and he is named
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time onwards and for evermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
As we enter this season of Advent, I enjoy reading the Old Testament prophecies about the coming of the Christ child. It reminds me of the importance of the prophets and of such great faith Old Testament believers had with little evidence a Messiah would actually be presented. It also sets a mindset of waiting for the advent of our Lord, as Christians have done for centuries before us.
In stark contrast to this faith-minded season, we also have the ongoing battle of the retailers desiring to lure us to their stores or websites to buy the best gifts. When did the adrenaline rush start coming from spending instead of from giving? How do we as 21st-century Christians navigate the commercial landscape in a prudent manner that demonstrates a certain caring of the welfare of others? I don’t have perfect answers to these questions, but simply pose them for your reflection.
One way that helps me move away from the commercialism of Christmas is moving closer to my church and church family in a spirit of thankfulness. Our pastors and staff do a wondrous job of setting the tone of anticipation and focus in the weeks leading up to the birth of Jesus. We are truly blessed to have the congregation and ministry of Mountain View.
Another way to enact the meaning of the season is to carefully and prayerfully consider the gifts we give and to remember the church on our gift list. When the church ends the year in a solid financial position, we fulfill the commitment we made to the spending guideline approved by the congregation the prior year, and, more importantly, it ensures continuity of the ministry we are faithfully working to accomplish.
In closing, I hope this letter causes each of us to reflect, to appreciate, and to perhaps give with new zeal as we look to live out our faith with childlike anticipation of the Savior to come. May the joy of Christ’s presence be yours; may it inspire you to act, and in so doing, may you inspire others into the same.