“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.  For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.” (Isaiah 61:10-11)  This week’s first lesson is most closely associated with our Lord.  Jesus directly identifies himself with Isaiah 61 at the beginning of his public ministry in Luke 4.  Most scholars make a strong link between Isaiah 61 and the servant songs of Second Isaiah (e.g. Isaiah 53).  With that being the case, by making this identification, Jesus not only tells us what he has come to do, but the price he will pay in doing so.  From time-to-time, I have encountered folks who want to “enjoy Christmas by itself.”  They do not really want to hear about the man Jesus but instead “just enjoy the baby for a while.”  I think that I understand, after all, I believe it was Martin Luther who said that Jesus came as a baby so as not to scare us!  But, having said that,  I am also quite sure of this: the reason the baby enters the world is to save sinners like you and me.  And, the cost of you and me being covered with the “robe of righteousness” is for him to be stripped naked of his own glory and righteousness.  He gives us a victory garland only to take on a crown of thorns for himself.  In this way, and only in this way will “righteousness and praise spring up before the nations.”  What a glorious Lord we serve.  Have a great week as you continue to approach the manger.