The scriptures read are Isaiah 7-9, Psalm 28 and 1 Thessalonians 5.
Isaiah 7. Aram (Syria) and Israel (often called Ephraim after its dominant tribe) wanted to form a coalition against the Assyrians. (2 Kings 16 & 2 Chronicles 28) But when King Ahaz of Judah decided not to join them, they teamed up against Judah, planning to overthrow Ahaz and put a puppet king in his place. The king and his men are freaked out. So Isaiah is sent by God to give a message of comfort and hope.
As a sign, a child will be born to a maiden of marriageable age and his name will be Immanuel, which means God is with us. Yes, this famous passage is actually a prophesy about Isaiah's own time. Its second and more cosmic fulfillment is found in Matthew 1. But the original is about reassuring King Ahaz. He can't bring himself to trust God's message of hope, so the Assyrians destroy the agriculture of Judah as well.
Isaiah 8. Mahershalalhashbaz is the longest name in the Bible. The current actor bearing that moniker has the longest name in IMDB, I'll bet. Gwyneth Paltrow's kids have nothing on Isaiah's children. It's also a symbolic name, part of a prophesy. Anyway, God wants Isaiah to stand fast and not freak out, confident that God's words will come true.
Isaiah 9. An extravagant prophesy of a future ideal Davidic king. Christians see this as a prophesy of Jesus. It's interesting that the verbs are in the past tense. This prophesy is so sure of happening, it might as well be treated as a fait acompli.
And the northern kingdom of Israel will fall.
Psalm 28. I really like this acoustic setting and the singer. For something completely different, here is an instrumental version if you, like me, are a sucker for Celtic music and landscapes. Sheep included at not extra cost.
1 Thessalonians 5. Echoing Jesus, Paul once again says we can't know when the end will come. It will surprise everyone. (Take that, apocalypse predictors!) So stay awake and keep your eyes open. And be doing the works Jesus wants to catch us doing: getting along with one another, praying, praising, not quashing the Spirit, weighing everything, holding onto the good and discarding the garbage.
And remember: alive or dead, we are alive in Christ, which is our hope.
Give everyone a kiss. No handshakes then. That's how Mediterranean folk passed the peace.