Wednesday, December 4, 2013

“The Gift of Three Songs”

Christmas Gifts from the Prophets
The Gift of Three Songs”
Part 1 in a series
By Brenda Black

“I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit...What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it?” (Isaiah 5:1-4)

Isaiah sang of the gift God gave – His fertile land and His choice vine -- the Son He sent. The best came to earth, predicted by the prophets of old, because God so loved each of us. Jesus was planted in the womb of a virgin, who adds her melody of humble favor to the notes of Isaiah's tune.

“And Mary said: 'My soul praises the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thought. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.'” (Luke 1:46-55)

The gift came as a babe in a manger to a vineyard filled with promise. Isaiah sang of this great gift call Emmanuel. Mary sang of the gift of His mighty power. But it was Zechariah who added the all important lyrics of Christ's saving prophecy as the ultimate gift to humanity.

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us – to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant...” (Lk. 1:67-72)

The vine, the babe, the song, the Christ “grew and became strong in spirit.” (Lk 1:80)

In His last days on earth, Jesus hauntingly sings again a new version of Isaiah's “Song of the Vineyard” when He speaks of the parable of the landowner, recorded in Matthew 21.

“'...There was a man, a landowner, who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it , dug a winepress in it, and built a watchtower. He leased it to tenant farmers and went away. When the grape harvest drew near, he sent his slaves to the farmers to collect his fruit. But the farmers took his slaves, beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Again, he sent other slaves, more than the first group, and they did the same to them. Finally, he sent his son to them. “They will respect my son,” he said.'

“'But when the tenant farmers saw the son, they said among themselves, “This is the heir. Come, let's kill him and take his inheritance!” So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those farmers?'” (Mt. 21:33-40)

The Creator God provided the gift of a vineyard; He the earth and you and me. A Loving God sent the gift of His Son, the perfect branch, to dwell among the vines and offer fellowship with holiness. In return for such provision and love, mercy and miracles, we scorned, disrespected, rejected and crucified Him. We yielded bad fruit! Is that any way to say thanks? Jesus, the beautiful branch who bore life for all mankind, was planted in the womb of a virgin and grew to provide salvation. What are we doing with such a marvelous gift?

If Christmas is a time of music and giving, then may it be sung about you and me that we were good fruit and lived as redeemed.

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