Word of the Month

"Unto us a Child is born..."

December 2005

How casually we celebrate Christmas! Few people even consider the fact that around two thirds of all people on this earth do not even know the feast of Christmas. This celebration is completely foreign to large world religions such as Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. And when we look through the ranks of the Christian world, we must concede that even there, very few know the significance of Christmas. A little while ago, a survey of pedestrians was conducted in a large German city. The question the survey asked was: "Why do we celebrate Christmas?" The answers were sobering, if not distressing: many did not know that this is the day we commemorate the birth of Christ.

What would Christmas be for our souls if we were unable to go into God's house? It would be a comfortless matter. To gather around the altar, commemorate the birth of Christ in the divine service, and receive the peace of Christmas in our souls—that creates bliss! After all, it is the most valuable gift of all that we can come under word and sacrament, gain peace and joy, and receive blessing and grace. The reason for this is that God sent us His only begotten Son, and that He brought salvation for our souls.

Already hundreds of years before, Prophet Isaiah referred to the birth of the Redeemer and Saviour: "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9: 5). These names Isaiah mentions are quite splendid!

The name "Counsellor" calls to mind that we receive wonderful counsel from the Lord in His word. At the beginning of his gospel, Apostle John writes: "And the Word"—here he is referring to Jesus Christ—"became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). This Word and His wonderful counsel is something we should consider high and holy. Let us never let it fall to the ground, criticise, or even crush it underfoot!

One who is mighty will gain the victory. Because Jesus gained the victory over the devil, hell, and death, He is the "Mighty God". And the victory He gained is also our victory.

The words "Everlasting Father" direct our thoughts toward the new creation and our future glory. If only it were possible to describe the new creation, there would probably be no one left on earth who could remain indifferent to God's word! Rather, all would strive to enter into this new creation with all their might. But this new creation is impossible for us to describe. We have no words for it and do not have the ability to fathom it. It is best that we follow in faith until the end.

Prophet Isaiah speaks of a "Prince of Peace" during a time that was certainly not peaceful in Jerusalem. The city of God was direly threatened by superior foes at the time. How could Isaiah then speak of peace? Because the prophet was looking into the future and could see the One whose rule would be great and whose peace would be without end: Christ. It is He who rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, from where He grants us His peace.

What remarkable names Prophet Isaiah already coined for the Son of God centuries before Christ's birth! We are already permitted to experience the veracity of these names today.

(From a service by Chief Apostle Fehr)