SERMON TITLE: “Good Tidings”
SERMON TEXT: Isaiah 40:1-11
PREACHER: Rev. Kim James
OCCASION: December 2, 2018, at First UMC—1st Sunday of Advent
A week ago, my husband Steve and I went to see the Ballet West performance of the Nutcracker. Even though that storied ballet is a Christmas classic, somehow I had gotten to my ripe old age without ever having seen it before. The dancers were so athletic and graceful, the costumes and staging were really beautiful, and we enjoyed the performance a lot.
As far as Christmas stories go, however, I’m not sure the Nutcracker comes anywhere close to my favorite Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. Even though I’ve seen that heart-warming movie dozens of times, it still evokes tears from me as the Jimmy Stewart character, George Bailey, goes through his many different emotions and contemplates suicide before he arrives at the happy ending of Christmas love and joy.
If I had little kids in my house, another classic that I’d be looking forward to this season would be the Charlie Brown Christmas. Even though I haven’t seen it in quite a few years, I can still fondly remember the sadly-shaped tree and Linus’ ever-important line: “I bring you good tidings of great joy.”
Of course, Linus’ classic words didn’t originate with the Charlie Brown gang. That precious line comes from the Christmas story in the Gospel of Luke, when the angels told the shepherds about the birth of baby Jesus. But really, even in Luke, the words of the angels weren’t entirely original. Their heavenly chorus was an echo of classic words from centuries before, when the Jewish people had been living through some pretty tough times and the Prophet Isaiah proclaimed to them a message of hope. Because this proclamation has persevered as a classic for the ages, let’s dig into Isaiah 40 and see what the prophet meant by “good tidings.”