God works in surprising ways.

God breaks into the world with amazing love in ways we never would have imagined or expected.

God might surprise you too, if you open your heart with anticipation.

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The people walking in darkness have seen a great light. On those living in a pitch-dark land, light has dawned. You have made the nation great; you have increased its joy. They rejoiced before you as with joy at the harvest, as those who divide plunder rejoice. As on the day of Midian, you’ve shattered the yoke that burdened them, the staff on their shoulders, and the rod of their oppressor. Because every boot of the thundering warriors, and every garment rolled in blood will be burned, fuel for the fire. A child is born to us, a son is given to us, and authority will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be vast authority and endless peace for David’s throne and for his kingdom, establishing and sustaining it with justice and righteousness now and forever. The zeal of the Lord of heavenly forces will do this.

Isaiah 9:2-7

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“A child is born to us, a son is given to us ... He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” We find these words everywhere at Christmastime – from greeting cards to Handel’s Messiah. When Christians hear these words today, we think about Jesus.

Isaiah originally wrote about the hope of Israel for a new earthly king while they were living in exile, long before Jesus' birth. God's people were hoping and praying for God to do something new, to release them from oppression and provide justice. This unnamed king may have served the people of Israel well, but he was not the Messiah.

Indeed, several hundred years later, a child was born. But who would have thought that the one called Prince of Peace and Mighty God would be a vulnerable little baby from a poor, humble family?

May that give you hope as you seek and work for God's kingdom of justice and righteousness today.

Tracy Hartman

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Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace, I continue to be amazed that you chose to come to earth as one of us, to live among us and walk alongside us. Help me to continue your work in the world today and every day. Amen.

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Now go into the world with hope and anticipation, with your heart wide open to God’s ongoing work in the world.

Tracy Hartman

Tracy Hartman mostly recently served on the faculty of Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. She enjoys coaching clergy and serving as an intentional interim pastor. She and her husband Jay live in Richmond, VA.

Sing We Now

Nathan Hanson

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