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The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are of a fearful heart, "Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God. He will come with vengeance, with terrible recompense. He will come and save you."
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
Tomorrow we celebrate Christmas. And for a lot of us, including me, this is the end of a long process. You see, outside of a few gifts that have been ordered but haven’t arrived, the shopping is done. And outside of maybe a turkey or ham tomorrow, most of the cooking and all the baking is in the books. And as a minister, I’ve got a service this evening and two services tomorrow, all three of which are different and demanded different bulletins, but after tomorrow, at about 12:30 p.m., the dust settles. And even though most of us face the “joy” of taking all the decorations down, very little new is going up. You see, for most of us, Christmas is the end.
But that wasn’t the case if we’re talking about the birth of Jesus. This wasn’t the end of anything, rather it was the beginning: the beginning of grace made real and personal, the beginning of a new relationship with God, and the beginning of the time when the tables will be turned and the values of the old age reversed. Like Isaiah wrote, with the coming of Christ, “the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water...” And so, as we move beyond the twenty-fifth, let’s just pause for a minute so that we can appreciate what actually began at that first Christmas.