Pastor Michael Frye:

For a moment, let us look at the opening words of our first lesson from Isaiah 61:

“The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners….”

Jesus used these very words as he preached in the temple at the beginning of his ministry.

Throughout his entire ministry, in all his encounters with both those who admired him and those who sought to bring him down, Jesus’ primary concern was always the poor and the oppressed.

Jesus came to bring good news to all these forgotten people, that God loves them so much that he sent his own Son to fulfill Isaiah’s prophetic message that we heard this morning: that of bringing about the eradication of sin and the fulfillment of God’s promise to bring the world back to himself.

As we have waited to celebrate the birth of our Lord over these past three weeks we have come to know what it is to patiently wait on something that is vital and important in our lives.

While we have waited, we have seen through the scriptures how, for centuries, God’s people anxiously awaited the coming of the Messiah, having no idea when, how, our who would come to them.

As we anticipate the anniversary of the arrival of Jesus into our world, we don’t have to guess, do we?

We don’t have to wonder if God has forgotten or abandoned us; we aren’t consumed with doubt over whether or not the Messiah will appear.

We already have received the Good News that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has come as a light shining in the darkness of a world torn apart by sin.

Although nothing has appeared to have changed in the last two thousand years since Christ’s birth regarding the state and condition of our world, we know that Christ has promised that he will come again to bring an end to prejudice, and poverty, and divisiveness, and injustice, and all the ills that continue to plague our world today.

But, because of the Good News that we are receiving throughout this Advent Season, we know that we can now live as if the promise has come true, as if the labels that we tend to place upon one another are not our true identity.

Christ has made us free to claim our true identity as children of the light and of God’s kingdom.

If we strive to live as ones who are living in the dawn of a new day facing each challenge with assurance and hope in our living Lord, we can make a difference in this world.

We can chip away at oppression and poverty and injustice and hatred, one day at a time, one person at a time, just as Jesus did during his ministry, and continues to do in our world today.

The world needs the kind of hope you and I can bring – not only during this season but throughout the year.

Although it is difficult when one has a huge list of things that have to be accomplished before Christmas Day arrives, let us make the effort over these next couple weeks to center our lives in Christ and allow him to show us ways in which we can brighten the lives of those who can see only darkness.

David Haas begins his hymn, “We are Called” with these words:

“Come! Live in the light! Shine with the joy and the love of the Lord!

We are called to be light for the kingdom, to live in the freedom of the city of God.

We are called to act with justice, we are called to love tenderly; we are called to serve one another, to walk humbly with God.” (ELW, Hymn #720)

Let us take these words to heart and shine the light of Christ into every corner of our lives.

May the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Amen.