By the Waters of Babylon –Ps 137:1
Go back and read last Sunday’s Old Testament lesson (Isaiah 61:10 – 62:3), which is important as we try and understand the miracle of the birth of Jesus in this season of an international pandemic.
This passage of Isaiah (and the chapters around it) was written at the end of the Babylonian exile. It points clearly to the power of God through hard times. It is written to people who were despondent, to those who were currently living in exile, and those who had recently left the exile and were returning home. Just think about the stress, fear, anxiety, and sickness they must have experienced! This passage from Isaiah reminds the people that the God of Israel is still powerful and still loyal to his chosen people. Only one god is the true God, and God alone has created the world and brings redemption.
This brings us face to face with Christmas 2020! It might feel like we’ve been in exile this year as well. We have been isolated in our homes, most of us, while injustice and illness, and hate prowled all around us. We stressed about money and violence and politics and the ever-present pandemic. We, like the nation of Israel, also need the reminder that God created the world, is with us in it, and brings redemption. Christmas is not only a season to celebrate a baby’s birthday but also to celebrate the same thing we celebrate at Easter – God’s unimaginable and inexplicable love to us and for the world, , no matter how much we mess up.