Nancy Hammond, Administrative Assistant to the Vice President for Advancement at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary


Isaiah 31:1-9

1   Alas for those who go down to Egypt for help
          and who rely on horses,
     who trust in chariots because they are many
          and in horsemen because they are very strong,
     but do not look to the Holy One of Israel
          or consult the LORD!
2   Yet he too is wise and brings disaster;
          he does not call back his words,
     but will rise against the house of the evildoers,
          and against the helpers of those who work iniquity.
3   The Egyptians are human, and not God;
          their horses are flesh, and not spirit.
     When the LORD stretches out his hand,
          the helper will stumble, and the one helped will fall,
          and they will all perish together.
4   For thus the LORD said to me,
     As a lion or a young lion growls over its prey,
          and — when a band of shepherds is called out against it —
     is not terrified by their shouting
          or daunted at their noise,
     so the LORD of hosts will come down
          to fight upon Mount Zion and upon its hill.
5   Like birds hovering overhead, so the LORD of hosts
          will protect Jerusalem;
     he will protect and deliver it,
          he will spare and rescue it.
6Turn back to him whom you have deeply betrayed, O people of Israel. 7For on that day all of you shall throw away your idols of silver and idols of gold, which your hands have sinfully made for you.
8   "Then the Assyrian shall fall by a sword, not of mortals;
          and a sword, not of humans, shall devour him;
     he shall flee from the sword,
          and his young men shall be put to forced labor.
9   His rock shall pass away in terror,
          and his officers desert the standard in panic,"
     says the LORD, whose fire is in Zion,
          and whose furnace is in Jerusalem.


Hmmm! Just a couple of days before Christmas. Again!

I’ve begun to see quite a few Christmases in my life, and this year, like most all years before, the background to Christmas is war. No, not war as in last minute shopping trips to the mall. War, as in war.

I’ve lived Christmas with  WWII in the background, the Korean conflict, the Vietnam war, Grenada, the Persian Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan, ISIL….Oh Dear Holy Lord God, forgive us.

Alas for those who go down to Egypt for help, who trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong. Oh Dear Holy Lord God, forgive us.


Please let this be my last Christmas with war in the background. Help us turn back to Him who we have so deeply and continually betrayed. Let this be the year that we throw away our idols of silver and gold. Come this Christmas, Oh Dear Holy Lord God. Amen.