An Advent Prayer: The Weakness, Paradox, and Glory of Jesus’ Birth

     The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. Isa. 61:1-3 (NIV)

     Dear Lord Jesus, I am so thankful you came to fulfill everything mentioned in these hope-saturated words from Isaiah; and I’m in awe, once again, as I reflect on your humble entrance into our world. The contrast between your birthing and calling is staggering.

     Though Mary nursed you, she depended on you for her next breath and her eternal salvation. Though vulnerable and needing her comfort as a newborn, it was you who came to comfort all who mourn. O, holy and profound mystery—a newborn child has come to make all things new.

     Even as a babe, the Spirit of the Sovereign Lord was on you—for you are the Sovereign Lord—the King of Kings and Lord of Lords—the one by whom all oppression will be stopped, all chains will be broken, all injustice will give way to justice. We praise, bless, and adore you, Lord Jesus.

     By you, mourning is transformed into gladness, broken hearts become whole hearts, despairing hearts become delight-full hearts—we, the disfavored, become the favored of the Lord. Who possibly could’ve seen, known, and believed such a thing—given the circumstances of your birth?

     But the meekness of your birth was a sure hint of the weakness of your death. As surely as you were placed in an unlikely crib, you were nailed to an undeserved cross. Hail the incarnate deity—born that we no more may die, died that we may truly live! We worship you, O, glorious and grace-full Lord Jesus. Use us—use me today, as a conduit of your tender mercies and eternal encouragement. So very Amen I pray, in your kind and triumphant name.