These readings are traditionally used during the Christmas Eve service in many liturgical churches. They may be used on Christmas Day as well.
The Government Shall Be upon His Shoulders
What a year it was. There was concern about taxes. The central government was taking control of just about everything, including religious observances. It was a difficult year indeed. However, this particular year had a profound effect on not just the nation, but the whole world. You could say that this year changed everything. It is the year when this prophecy was fulfilled:
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulders: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
The ruler of the known world is Emperor Augustus. Yet all the skills of Rome could not dispel the darkness in the world. In fact, Rome was a significant part of the darkness. Soon the world would be given a glimpse of a different ruler. Again, from the Prophet Isaiah:
The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. Thou hast multiplied the nation, and not increased the joy: they joy before thee according to the joy in harvest, and as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For thou hast broken the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, as in the day of Midian. (Isaiah (9:2-4)
Jesus would lead His people out of darkness into to light. Are we following Him? What about our nation? Will the prophecy that was given to Israel also apply to America?
His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this. (Isaiah 9:7)
When Jesus returns He will fully consummate His authority on the earth. In the meantime, will we, as a people, embrace His rule in our hearts? The governments of this world can easily let us down and disappoint us. That is why we need to depend on the shoulders of Jesus Christ and not on the shoulders of man. We are living in a very dark world that is becoming darker by the minute. Now more than ever we need seek the light of Christ.
The good news is that the Christ Child was born, and has been born into our hearts when we believe in him. He, alone, is our peace. He is our hope for a better world. He is our salvation. Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Let every hearts prepare him room. Amen.