By Paul Gordon • January 4, 2023
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.Isaiah 9:6
The tenderness and fragility of the birth of a baby. New life is given as a gift to us and it is filled with private, close, intimate memories. In a birthing room the expanse of the world and all its cares fades away. For mother & father the world narrows in on the sounds, lights, smells and feelings of new life.
But the baby? Their world explodes with new sounds, new lights and new smells. Their world erupts from the intimacy of the womb to the immensity of the world. And for this Child, spoken of in Isaiah 9, He isn’t just welcomed into the world of childhood. From before His first breath the weight of an eternal government is placed on His shoulders. The reason this Child is born stands in stark contrast to the innocence of any other birth.
Contrast is a theme felt in the verse and in the names. The Wonderful Counselor was here? Yet, we still walk in anxiety, stress, depression, despair. The Mighty God was with us? Yet, godlessness still seems pervasive and our unavoidable end. An Everlasting Father was born into time? The Prince of Peace reigns? Yet, wars and rumors of wars fill our ears.
Contrast is felt in the verse and the names, contrast is also seen in the artwork for this Advent season. The colors stand opposed to each other with a hard vertical dividing line. The tenderness, innocence & goodness of “God With Us”, and a “to us a child is born”, is symbolized by the Christmas manger. The contrasting glory, brilliance & greatness of “God over us,” and the ultimate fulfillment of His four names, is symbolized by the Christmas Star.
The two have similar lines, slightly altered and shifted to form either a manger or a star. Seen in the backdrop of the manger is the Christmas Star. Seen in the backdrop of the Star is the Manger; for one cannot actually be fully understood without seeing through to the other. We see through the goodness of the manger to the greatness of the star. We see through the transcendence of the star to the imminence of the manger. God is with us and is over us.
Christmas is a season of contrast for Christ followers. We pray for Christ’s return and praise His coming. Christmas is often filled with sorrow, loss and mourning because of the pain of life, yet we celebrate the joy & peace of Christ’s presence in our lives through faith & hope. Christmas isn’t a season that asks us to ignore the contrast in our lives, but find both as pathways to our eternal and present Jesus. Christ is tender and strong. He has come and He will come again. He died for us and is alive reigning over us.
The color palette is a traditional Christmas color palette of Green, Silver, Gold and Red. The four names of Christ are called out as the focus of the series.
Artwork by Paul Gordon & assistance from Daniel Williams
Concept Writing by Paul Gordon & editing by Elizabeth Nasman