Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
for he has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty Savior,
born of the house of his servant David.
On this day before Christmas the Lectionary recalls once again the promises of God.
When we recall God's majesty, especially as Isaiah saw God sitting on the throne of the praises of Israel, as we have celebrated God's majesty with our echoing of the angels' song, Holy, Holy, Holy; as the romantic Saint of Assisi has shown us God's majesty in "Our Lord Brother Sun" and "Our Sister Moon" the dancing fire, sparkling water and caressing winds -- not to mention the majesty of forgiveness among Christians and, finally, the ominous ever-presence of Sister Death -- when we ponder the majesty of God we are even more astonished that this God should promise us anything.
Why would he make himself beholding to us with a promise? He surely owes us nothing.
But, having heard God's promise of a "mighty Savior" who will set his people free, we long for the day of his Coming. Without the promise we might have discovered -- at least those of us who are free enough and wise enough -- how pathetic we are. But most of us would have simply persisted in our blind denial, believing that we are already free and already happy and already prosperous! (Though perhaps not as free, happy and prosperous as our neighbors.)
On this day before Christmas we again recall the promises made to King David that
I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins, and I will make his Kingdom firm. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. Your house and your Kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever.With the birth of Jesus we understand far more than David and his people ever imagined about the fulfillment of God's promise, but even that appreciation is only sketchy. We hardly know the meaning of such words as salvation, peace, mercy, justice or freedom.
We know only that they are summed up in the name Jesus, for there is no other name in heaven or earth by which we are to be saved.