Welcome – our “backdrop” passage for this set of Advent reflections are these words found in Isaiah Chapter 9 – have someone in your family read this out
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne establishing and upholding it with justice and righeousness
from that time on and forever.
Isaiah 9: 6-7
Over the next few weeks we are going to think about those four names of Jesus : Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Before we do, a bit of context on why we want to focus on this bit of the Bible in the run up to Advent. We are just weeks from an election in the UK – the result of which will impact many – yet here, in this passage we have a child who will have “the government on his shoulders” – it doesn’t say when he grows up. It will also be a government that will bring peace.
We live in anxious times, we can easily be robbed of peace – or feel it is unobtainable – whether we are thinking of exams and school life, pressures at work or home, family stuff, things going on in the world and the general business of life – plus, trying to do life together!
Whatever is going on as we start this Advent season, we hope reflecting on these names of Jesus will be a reminder that – as Isaiah says a few verses earlier,
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light . . . a light has dawned!
Ask someone to pray – their own prayer, or just read these words, “Thank you Jesus that your light has come in to the world. Would you shine on us as a family as we journey through Advent together. Amen.“
The word wonderful means something like, “beyond our understanding” rather than wonderful which can be applied to all kinds of things – we can eat a wonderful cheesecake or listen to a wonderful piece of music – but it doesn’t quite catch what is being said here! This is who Jesus is – it is part of the essence of his character.
Do you find maths beyond your understanding? Maybe it is something else – like, in families we can all say or do things that are beyond anyone’s understanding at times! – But nothing is confusing or puzzling to Jesus, nothing we worry about or stress about – nothing we can’t work out is a puzzle to Him.
That is why we can trust Him as our wonderful counsellor. Paul writes something like this to the church in Colossae – have someone read the following :
I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God. Then you will have minds confident and at rest, focused on Christ, God’s great mystery. All the richest treasures of wisdom and knowledge are embedded in that mystery and nowhere else. And we’ve been shown the mystery! I’m telling you this because I don’t want anyone leading you off on some wild-goose chase.
Colossians 2: 2-4 [The Message]
I love that, “minds confident and at rest” – not having to trust in our own understanding – but rather in the one who is beyond our understanding and knowing that, as our counsellor – Jesus has “all the richest treasures of wisdom and knowledge“.
Taking that idea of being woven into a tapestry of love – we have done just that! In the image to the right you will see we just used some sharpies and strips of colourful paper. There are four of us in our family, we each had three strips and wrote on them something we loved about the other members of our family (some of us found this easier to write down than say it out loud) – then we passed them to the right people for them to read before weaving them together.
Sometimes we can’t see this picture of our family – we are a bit frayed at the edges, things come apart (or feel like they are) but Jesus – our wonderful counsellor – is a constant loving presence.
One of the places we are most often all together in our family is for meal times, we are going to keep this tapestry on our dinner table as a reminder of our love for each other – however we are feeling, and whatever is happening.
Take time to think over these wondering questions – by time, we means days . . . give each person in the family space to think their own thoughts, write, draw or say things that come to mind in their own time and at their own pace.
We were all involved in coming up with these in our family, and are going to stick them on our fridge as a reminder through the week – you might, of course, come up with some great wondering questions of your own.
- What is causing your mind not to be at rest?
- What is going on for you that is beyond your understanding?
- How can you bring those things to God – and what does that look like for you?
- What about God is mysterious?
- When have you seen the mystery of God at work in your own life?
Re-connect and Reflect. Pick a time to come back together later in the week – maybe over a meal or at a time that works when everyone is around. Be prepared to share a little about what you have been wondering about.