Christmas letters

This is traditionally the time of year where people try to reconnect with old friends, and one of the most popular methods is through Christmas letters. These often condense an entire year into a resume of humorous, memorable, and noteworthy family events. They can be very intimidating when you are in the middle of a quarter-life crisis. But I have also found that they can honestly sum up where God has been at work.

Isaiah 42 talks about the response of Israel to God’s work: they were to sing a new song. This would require some thought, not just memorized recitation. And it would really make them think through their circumstances. Rather like writing a Christmas letter.

Isaiah 42:10-17

“Sing to the Lord a new song,
    his praise from the end of the earth,
you who go down to the sea, and all that fills it,
    the coastlands and their inhabitants.
11 Let the desert and its cities lift up their voice,
    the villages that Kedar inhabits;
let the habitants of Sela sing for joy,
    let them shout from the top of the mountains.
12 Let them give glory to the Lord,
    and declare his praise in the coastlands.
13 The Lord goes out like a mighty man,
    like a man of war he stirs up his zeal;
he cries out, he shouts aloud,
    he shows himself mighty against his foes.

14 For a long time I have held my peace;
    I have kept still and restrained myself;
now I will cry out like a woman in labor;
    I will gasp and pant.
15 I will lay waste mountains and hills,
    and dry up all their vegetation;
I will turn the rivers into islands,
    and dry up the pools.
16 And I will lead the blind
    in a way that they do not know,
in paths that they have not known
    I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light,
    the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I do,
    and I do not forsake them.
17 They are turned back and utterly put to shame,
    who trust in carved idols,
who say to metal images,
    ‘You are our gods.'”

Even when we do not know where we are going, God does. And it sometimes feels like being blind and having to trust that God knows where He is leading us. It is scary!

But when we see God at work, it is time to share it with everyone we know. That is what the shepherds did when they had seen Jesus in the stable. They went and told everyone. And people were in awe. How was God working?

Another place we find the idea of a “New Song” is in Revelation where heaven is twice filled with the sounds of people honoring God for how He is working, even when it looks like the world was falling apart (Revelation 5:9, 14:3). From heaven’s perspective, this was only the beginning of reconstruction.

God, You are beautiful. And You shape the string of time into beauty, weaving Your light into the midst of sin-darkness. And I have been so flustered by what was NOT happening for me this Christmas (favorite family traditions, a pile of presents wrapped and ready, special events with old friends) that I forgot to be grateful for how You are working (seeing the lights, new Christmas decorating, church musicals). Thank You for the beauty of remembering all the ways You have steered me in crazy new directions this year. It takes my breath away…from graduating to being given a job that stretches and encourages me and roommates that come out of the woodwork. Please help me to praise You when I can’t see what is going on, and share when I do see You at work so everyone around me can rejoice that You are there. And I can’t wait to hear their stories. Amen.

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