First Day of Advent Sermon

Text: Isaiah 2:1-5

Skit:
(couple in waiting room)

Brook: This waiting room is so cold.

Kristan: Not for me- no one told me I would be this hot during pregnancy

Brook: How long have we been here? Seems like forever

Kristan: Why don’t we do this why don’t we come up with a list of questions for the doctor

Brook: I only have ONE question–
How much longer do we have to wait until the baby gets here

Kristan: Brook, I told you we don’t really know but they might be able to tell us the gender today

Brook: Really?? if it’s a boy I say we name him Martin Luther!

Kristan: Hmmm..I’m  thinking more like Charlie for our FIRST baby…

Brook: First baby? Ummm this will be it, Kristan. We aren’t going to be like one of those crazy families with 5 kids!

Kristan: If you say so…

Brook: Either way I’m just so excited!!

Kristan: Me Too!

PG: Mr and Mrs Seaford, the doctor will see you now…

****

Waiting can be exciting can’t it?
The anticipation
The delayed gratification
It’s not always EASY, mind you, but it still has a feeling of fun.
Especially when it’s the kind of waiting where you sort of know what’s coming—

—like that fresh pie that just came out of the oven- but you have to wait until after dinner to eat it
—or the thrill of knowing those friends who you haven’t seen in years are on their way into town for a visit— and you’re imagining the fun things you’ll do, and the old times you’ll rehash

—or that moment when you’ve received the call that you’ve gotten that dream job you’ve always wanted but it doesn’t start for 2 weeks.

Yes, waiting can be fun and exciting

Advent is the season of waiting.
We are anxiously looking toward Christmas Day
When we celebrate the birth of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Knowing in our hearts that the hope of our salvation has finally arrived
And that our future is secured.
But we can’t quite celebrate yet
It’s still a few weeks away
So we wait
Imagining
Dreaming
Anticipating

The people of Israel dreamed of the Messiah and the hope and deliverance he would bring.
Perhaps with the same excitement and joy we have now
They listened to and shared and discussed the prophecies—
what they meant and what they promised-
how at that time a new future would be ushered in
A transformative time.

These people needed those words of hope
and the promise they offered.
Maybe you do as well.

In the reading today, we listen to the words of hope the Prophet Isaiah spoke— to a community in desperate need of them.
At the time of this particular prophecy, the people of Judah, where Isaiah ministered, were used to being beaten down and oppressed.
They lived in a divided kingdom, and were in constant conflict with their counterparts of the North over social and theological issues
They were constantly being invaded and attacked.
These were turbulent times.

But Isaiahs’s words gave them a glimpse of a future removed from this pain and conflict
Of a time when violence and war will be no more
A time when they would be vindicated and redeemed—
Safe and secure in the presence of God

However, not all of Isaiah’s words were comforting
In the passage before this one today, the people of Judah had just been admonished for straying from God
They had been like rebellious children.
And like a good parent, God was now offering encouraging words of promise and hope.
The hope of a new future
Isaiah captured this imagination with beautiful imagery:

that the place of THEIR temple- which resided on what physically resembled more of a hill
would be lifted up and established as the “highest of mountains”
That their community—
their place—
Would be the chosen place where God resides
the one true God—
In a time of competing deities.
That their homeland would be
the intersection of heaven and earth
and that all nations would be drawn to it
with a sense of majestic magnetism.

And that the strife and fear and risk they had endured
for as along as they can remember
would be no more.

They could probably feel it
Almost taste it
And see it
The reign of the kingdom of God
Unlike any others
because
This kingdom is not a threatening one
This kingdom is a kingdom of joy and peace
In this kingdom, weapons aren’t required
“They shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks”

Because in this new future,
what once brought forth death
would be transformed into what brings life.

Isaiah could see this—
The people of Israel could see this—
Maybe we can see it also.

Occasionally we get glimpses of this peaceful reign Isaiah spoke of—
God’s dream—
And when we see bits and pieces of this dream now- in our lives today- there is an opportunity for us to jump in and help bring it to pass

Today’s passage ends with the prophet saying,
“come, let us walk in the light of the Lord”
Walk is an active word
“walking in the light of the Lord” suggests this participation

One person did it in a unique way-
and it was made into a movie I just watched called “Hacksaw Ridge”
An amazing movie.

Its a drama based on the true story of Desmond T. Doss who was drafted into World War II.
Raised a Seventh-day Adventist, he refused to kill or carry a weapon but still felt called to do his patriotic duty and serve his country.
This refusal to carry a weapon didn’t necessarily sit well with the other guys in his unit.
They teased him, harassed him, even beat him up, trying to get him to quit.
But Doss remained steadfast in his resolve.
Committed to the truths of his faith.
So they eventually stationed him as a medic.

In Okinawa—Doss participated in one the bloodiest battles of the war—
It was a frightening scene of fire and smoke; screams and explosions—
But in the midst of this horror, Doss dodged bullets, ducked explosions, and
single-handedly rescued 75 wounded men from behind enemy lines.
All without firing or carrying a gun-
In fact, he was the only American soldier in WWII to fight on the front lines without a weapon.
And for his valor and accomplishments, Doss was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
The first Conscientious Objector to ever do so.

When asked why he would do something so seemingly crazy- to participate in a war but without a weapon to protect himself, Doss responded,

“With the world so set on tearing itself apart, it don’t seem like such a bad thing to me to want to put a little bit of it back together.”

To Desmond Doss, this was his way of helping bring God’s dream to fruition
To participate in bringing to fulfillment the prophetic visions of peace to a world in pain.

While most of us won’t be war heroes like Desmond Doss
we can participate in our own unique ways.
Maybe we can

—Help a single parent struggling to rebuild his or her life by offering financial assistance or help with childcare through ministries like Christ Our Shepherd Ministries right here in Matthews.

Or maybe we can

Help build a home for a low-income family either here or around the world through a non-profit like Habitat for Humanity

Or maybe we can
take that moment
overcoming any nervousness and fear of awkwardness and share our faith
with someone in need.

Advent is a time of waiting
But its active waiting.

Just like new parents anxiously awaiting the arrival of a child are going to joyfully prepare a space in their homes and in their hearts for this arrival
Maybe we too should prepare a place in our hearts and in our lives and in our communities
for the greatest arrival of all
Jesus Christ.
we aren’t going to just sit in the waiting room until the moment arrives
We are going to joyfully live into and participate in this life of expectation

This is Advent
This is the season of joyful waiting.
Lets walk in its light.

Amen.

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