Fleming, Travis_November_2017_Cropped head shot

Fleming

It’s that “Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, right? I know. It’s 2020, and you may be like me in that you are ready for a brighter 2021! Can I get an Amen?

When our six-year-old told his oldest sister the other morning when they climbed out of bed, “Get at least six feet away,” it doesn’t take long to realize that we have been in this mess a little too long.

Altered vacation plans from the spring and summer to Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations potentially having a few less around our tables than we’d normally have, I for one am ready to declare to the “Covid-Grinch” Ray Charles’ old tune, “Hit the road, Jack, and don’t come back no more!”

Added to the pandemic volatility is the political impasse that can turn the best of friends against one another if we aren’t careful.

Before we know it, with all that we’ve been experiencing in 2020, the “light, joy and peace of Christmas” can be covered up like the “undergrowth” that grows wild in the woods during the summer months.

For instance, in our back yard there is a creek that flows toward Long Hollow Golf Course. Recently, my son wanted to go play by the creek.

I knew we would have to cut the “undergrowth” that had covered our trail to the creek. So, we took out the necessary tools, and we cut away the growth that had sprouted up since the last time we played by the creek.

Once we got down to the water, it was so peaceful to see and hear it flowing downstream on the slate rock that covers areas of the bed of the creek. There was peace in the midst of all that was going on around us.

I believe we Christians must help others cut away the “undergrowth” of 2020, so that people might see and hear the good news of Christmas!

I want to invite you to look at Isaiah chapter 9. Isaiah prophesied at a time when the nation of Israel was in desperate need of some good news.

If you think 2020 has been bad, what was happening in the day and time Isaiah ministered was certainly far darker.

The Northern Kingdom of Israel was facing the invasion of the Assyrian Army, which took them into captivity. Yet, Isaiah, as the Spirit of the Lord directed him to prophesy, gave a message of hope.

What would calm the chaos and the fears of the Israelites that looked to the Lord? Who will calm our fears and give us a present, living hope for our lives today and for eternity as well?

Isaiah said it so perfectly in chapter 9:6, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

This child was born through the Virgin Mary, and He was given to us by God the Father with the perfect plan of redeeming and forgiving anyone that will look to the One that is fully God and fully man.

He is our “Wonderful Counselor” in that He is the only One that can give us counsel on how to have eternal life. He calls us to come just as we are and to repent of our brokenness and sin and to receive His free offer of salvation.

He’s our “Mighty God” in that He is fully God—Emmanuel, God with us, and there’s no sin or mess He can’t forgive us of if we will only ask.

He’s always existed as the Second Person of the Trinity, but in the fullness of time God sent Him into this world to be wrapped in human flesh, born as a babe, to save us from our sins.

He’s our “Everlasting Father” in that He reflects to us the attributes and character of God our Father, and He loves, protects and provides for us in the “here and now” and for all of eternity.

Finally, He’s our “Prince of Peace” in that He enables us to “sit down on the inside of our hearts” and be at rest in our souls when we accept Him as our Lord and Savior.

So, as you work on “cutting away” the “undergrowth” of 2020, our prayer at First Baptist Gallatin on Main Street is that you, too, will discover that the child that was born is indeed the Light that shines His saving grace into our messed up, dark world. And because of Him, we know that, “The best is yet to come!”

Merry Christmas!

Travis Fleming is the pastor of First Baptist Gallatin.

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