First Lesson: Isaiah 11: 1-10
Responsive Reading: Psalm 72: 1-7, 18-19
Second Lesson: Romans 15: 4-13
Gospel Lesson: Matthew 3: 1-12
Grace and Peace from Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
John Hughes tells the story of 8-year-old Kevin McAllister. Kevin McAllister is the youngest of five children. Kevin’s family has a huge upcoming holiday trip planned to Paris with all his siblings and cousins numbering 11 children in all. The night before leaving, Kevin gets in trouble at home like a lot of 8-year-old boys tend to do. Kevin thinks it’s all unfair, so Kevin storms off, hoping that he’d never see his family again.
Overnight, an accident takes place that would forever change Kevin McAllister’s life. The wind knocks the power out at Kevin’s house. The next morning, alarms fail to go off at home forcing the family to hurry to the airport. A neighbor child is accidentally counted in Kevin’s place when the family van is set to leave.
By the time Kevin gets out of bed. His entire family is on a flight to Paris. Kevin’s dreams of an empty house had come true! Kevin responds as most 8-year-old boys would: he starts jumping on his parents’ bed, eats all sorts of junk food, and begins watching violent movies his family told him he couldn’t. Kevin McAllister was on top of the world!
What ends up happening to Kevin and his family? We’ll get back to them in just a little bit. Today’s First Lesson comes to us from the Book of Isaiah. The Isaiah lessons that we read this Advent have to do with the Prophet Isaiah seeking to get the people of Israel ready for the birth of the long-awaited Messiah.
You see Israel during Isaiah’s lifetime was about three-hundred years after the nation’s glory days under King David. Things were still really good under David’s son Solomon, Israel never had more money. Once Solomon dies his son was never as admired by the people. Many people rejected Solomon’s son as King for spending too much money threatening to bankrupt the nation.
Israel would then divide into two separate kingdoms, both North and South. Israel would then cycle through a whole series of Kings: some faithful, some unfaithful, some worshiping the God of the Bible, some worshiping other gods. The further that Israel got from God as a nation, the more uncertain their future. The following history brings us to our lesson for Today from Isaiah 11.
Like last week’s lesson, this week’s lesson also gives a vision of future peace brought about by the nation’s Messiah: The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling[a] together; and a little child will lead them. “
From where does the child who shall bring about all these things come? Verse 1 declares: “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;”
Who was Jesse? Jesse was the Father of Israel’s greatest King David. When you look at Jesus’ family trees listed in both Matthew and Luke’s Gospel? Jesse (father of David) is listed. So what Isaiah is trying to say things for us, Today is that through broken family trees such as Jesse, David, and ultimately Jesus, Israel as a people would eventually find salvation.
Back to the story of 8-year-old Kevin McAllister being left home alone, Kevin keeps having his fun without any parents even managing to slide down the family’s indoor steps right on out the front door. Kevin soon realizes something though enemies are all around him. An 8-year-old is not going a terrifying security system for a big house in the Chicago suburbs. Kevin soon notices two robbers targeting not only his house but also him. Kevin then has to plot with his eight-year-old mind, all the possible ways he can protect family home from criminals.
Christmas Eve soon comes, Kevin decides to go to church with the hope that it will bring his family back. While at church, Kevin encounters a neighbor known as Old Man Marley. Kevin had previously heard from his brother than Old Man Marley was a serial killer who had killed half the people on the block thirty years before. Kevin would run screaming in fear whenever he saw Old Man Marley. On Christmas Eve, Kevin and Old Man Marley meet, exchange pleasantries, and begin to watch a children’s choir rehearse. Old Man Marley tells Kevin, he’s there to watch his granddaughter, how he has to watch the rehearsal because Old Man Marley and his son had a falling out years back and haven’t spoken since.
Kevin, after being separated from his family, had a new perspective about his prior wishes that he’d be better off without them. Kevin suggests that Old Man Marley use the Christmas season to try to mend fences with his son. Old Man Marley’s pride was such that he didn’t know whether he could make such a call.
You see, many people have a certain image of Christmas in their minds. They look forward to the decorations, the music, and shopping. Something for many is going on beneath the surface at Christmas that isn’t always as recognized. Families are separated! People are hurting. Loneliness is manifested. Little children long for their missing parents. Grandparents are separated from their grandchildren. Christmas should not be the time to ignore these things, for we remember that Jesus was born into a far from perfect family.
It was a family that generations before had overseen the downfall of their nation. Now Jesus begins life within the scandal of a very young mother and a so-called “virgin birth.” Jesus comes into a world where families don’t often get to celebrate the picture-perfect Christmas, just as in the story of Kevin McAllister and Old Man Marley. Yet what every Christmas season reminds us is that we are indeed getting closer to the day when even the most separated of families reunite. We remember that “Peace on Earth” will come out of the deepest and longest lasting of divides.
Final story for this morning. England and France were seemingly continually at war with each other from the Battle of Hastings in 1066 to the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
The most famous of these wars was the 100-Years War. If two countries couldn’t ever come together, it seemed to be England and France. The two countries' arguments were mostly family arguments. English Royalty believed that their family bloodlines also put them on top of the French throne. France disagreed, and the countries would continually start fighting with each other.
Something happened though during all the warfare between England and France. A sign of future peace between the nations, traveling French musicians many years before had journeyed across the English Channel. The French men had brought with them what would become a popular Christmas Carol. The song would be known in English as the “First Birthday” “First Nativity” or in French as the “First Noel.”
The French song soon became a great favorite to be sung in English taverns on Christmas Eve. In the 1820s, Christmas Carols were sung more outside the church than inside the church.
Eventually two Englishmen collaborated to write extra words to the old French song the “First Noel” describing the complete event of Christ’s Birth over six verses: the angels announcing the birth of the Christ to the Shepherds, the Shepherds visiting the New Born Christ and the Star of Bethlehem leading the Magi from the East thereby making Christ’s birthplace where all the different people of the Earth gathered under the presence of newborn savior . The “First Noel” retelling the Christmas story from Matthew and Luke’s Gospel would then make it into a book of English Christmas carols, thereby making it the favorite Christmas carol that we sign Today.
Peace amongst families. Eight-year-old Kevin McAllister though he was better off without his family. Only Kevin would soon realize that there would be no greater gift than a Christmas reunion with his loved ones. Kevin realized this as he saw his neighbor Old Man Marley embrace his long-separated son and granddaughter. Peace amongst nations! Would have seemed foolish in the days of Isaiah when our lesson was written when Israel was fighting off every enemy imaginable. “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling[a] together; and a little child will lead them.” Such a vision would have seemed ridiculous for hundreds of years between France and England. Until a Christmas Carol began to paint the way towards a great peace that is to come with the Birth of our Savior. Noel, noel! Noel, noel! Born is the King of Israel! Amen
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 Isaiah 11:1-10
 Gaiser, Fred. “Commentary on Isaiah 11:1-10.” Working Preacher. Luther Seminary. 09.Dec.2007. Web. Nov.26.2019.
 Isaiah 2:1-5
 Isaiah 11:6.
 Matthew 1:1-17.
 Luke 3: 23-38.
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 Home Alone.” Home Alone Wiki. Fandom.
 “Home Alone.” Home Alone Wiki. Fandom.
 Hoezee, Scott. “Romans 15:4-13.” Center for Excellence in Preaching. Calvin Seminary. Grand Rapids. 28.Nov.2016. Web. Nov.27.2019.
 Hoezee, Scott. “Romans 15:4-13.” Center for Excellence in Preaching.
 Glushakoff, Martin. “How many times have France and England (and later Britain) gone to war?” Quora. 26.Nov.2019. Web. Nov.27.2019.
 Glushakoff, Martin. “How many times have France and England (and later Britain) gone to war?” Quora.
 Osbeck, Kenneth. W. “The First Noel.” Christian Broadcasting Network. Web. Nov.27.2019.
 Hopler, Whitney. “The First Noel' Christmas Song.” Live About. 8.Mar.2017. Web. Nov.27.2019.
 “The First Noel.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. 20.Nov.2019. Web. Nov.27.2019.
 Hopler, Whitney. “The First Noel' Christmas Song.” Live About.
 Hoezee, Scott. “Romans 15:4-13.” Center for Excellence in Preaching. Calvin Seminary. Grand Rapids.
 Isaiah 11:6.