December 5, 2016

Isaiah 40:9 You who bring good tidings to Zion,
go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem,
lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
say to the towns of Judah,
“Here is your God!”

The Good News of the Messiah is not to be spoken in a whisper! The Japanese here says, “Raise your voice to the limit of your strength.” That’s pretty loud! I really can’t read this passage without hearing Handel’s music in my head and heart. He was one who was obedient to this passage! Every year at Christmas the world gets pretty noisy (actually, it’s noisy much of the time) but only a small fraction of the noise is the Good News of the Messiah. We are bombarded with songs about reindeer and snow and Santa and the like, and some of them even manage to be sexually suggestive. We hear comparatively little, “Here is your God.” That is sad indeed, but believers don’t have to take it lying down. The world would have far less junk in it if believers weren’t so tolerant of the junk, failing to see how it distracts from the true “reason for the season.” A song I’ve heard for the first time this year is “It’s All About the Cross.” That’s the true reason for the season, the message that we need to be communicating. Here in Japan there’s no time of year that it’s easier to do public evangelism. Japan has a tendency to adopt foreign things that seem attractive for one reason or another while failing to grasp any more than the surface of whatever it is. Christmas is a perfect example of that. The general public thinks Christmas is all about fir trees and “Christmas cake” and a funny man in a red suit. KFC has sold the idea that a bucket of fried chicken is an America Christmas tradition! In the middle of all that noise, believers have to be pretty loud to be heard at all! At the same time, they must not be deceived into thinking they have to adopt the same tactics as the world. We have “the real deal,” and all the other stuff is counterfeit. We must speak the truth in love, but we must never be afraid or ashamed to proclaim that truth. We cannot force anyone to accept it, but we can make it as accessible as possible.

I have been so burned out by all the general noise of commercialized Christmas that I have wanted to chuck the whole thing, ignoring it altogether. That’s not the right response! I must not let the extreme familiarity breed extreme contempt. In recent years the busyness of the season has generated a rising level of resentment, and that is not good at all. I need to rejoice, both in the fundamental message of the Messiah and in this opportunity to communicate that message. The combination of my resentment and my general weakness when it comes to advance planning has delayed our having materials ready to distribute in the neighborhood inviting people to our Christmas programs. That’s not good! The joint interdenominational City Christmas is this next Sunday, and I’m in charge! That I haven’t gotten any publicity material out for my own congregation certainly isn’t good. I need to make full use of this opportunity (Ephesians 5:16) to “lift my voice,” so that more may hear and perhaps respond, for their salvation and God’s glory.

Father, thank You for this Word. Thank You that I at least have the song booklets for the City Christmas printed. Help me get posters and fliers prepared today, not putting things off further, so that more people may indeed know the reason for the season, and receive the Messiah into their own hearts and lives, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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