The Mantle of Praise Instead

Ken Eriks

Read: Isaiah 61:3-11

Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion . . .  they shall have everlasting joy. (v. 7)

A son once left home with half his father’s possessions as his inheritance. He squandered them on bad friends, loose women, and cheap liquor. He lost his money, his pride, and himself. He was reduced to feeding pigs and stealing some of their food. He decided to return home and offer himself to his father as a servant. This son was greeted instead with a huge hug and a party. The fatted calf was killed. A robe was thrown around his shoulders. A faint spirit near death was replaced with a garment of praise. (See Luke 15:11-32.)

To make that kind of exchange is the reason Jesus came. He came to help us know that God is a God of love and compassion. God wants the best for us. He came to offer us a new way of seeing ourselves: forgiven for our past, healed of our hurts, and welcomed into the Father’s home.

Instead is the unspoken word of every Christmas song we sing: a beautiful headdress instead of ashes; oil of gladness instead of mourning; a garment of praise instead of a faint spirit. The tears and runny nose of mourning dry out the face. Oil restores softness and suppleness; it relaxes the skin. “I will come,” promises our God every Advent. As we receive those gifts, God is glorified. —Ken Eriks

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, this Advent once more work your miraculous change in us and in our world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.