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I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
my whole being shall exult in my God;
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to spring up before all the nations.
1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest,
until her vindication shines out like the dawn,
and her salvation like a burning torch.
2 The nations shall see your vindication,
and all the kings your glory;
and you shall be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will give.
3 You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
The lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring up.” Every Christmas morning for the past twenty-five years I have sprung up out of my bed to celebrate with children the joy and wonder that we call Christmas. Because of them I can see the magic of how hope changes the ordinary life in our house to a wonderland of love. Christmas comes like a gift. It sweeps in during Advent to say simply, “Love is born”; you don’t have to wait or watch. It has sprung up in the middle of night while you slept and has brought you good tidings of great joy.
Isaiah accurately reflects that such unbounded joy feels like “the robe of righteousness” covered with a garland and jewels, like we are going to a feast. We spend much time in our lives working hard, discerning the call, standing for justice, and loving our neighbors. Ah, but every now and then, the waters part and joy shines out like the dawn. This is that day! This is the day to see the sunrise as a miracle. This is the day to remember that in the midst of violence and oppression, life is full of freedom. This is the day to know that in the midst of hurt and fear, hope never dies!
I believe Christmas was created to remember that there is a space for the optimist. A place exists for those who want to live and work as a witness to the truth that in the end love is the most powerful force for change in the world. In this way, the true gift of Christmas comes—where each of us remembers we are “a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord.”
O God, you have caused this holy night to shine with the brightness of the true Light. Grant that we, who have known the mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy him perfectly in heaven; where with you and the Holy Spirit he lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
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Scripture Reading from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.