11/29/20 – Advent is a time of anticipation

Posted on : Nov 28th, 2020 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

In the Christian tradition, we are in the season of Advent, a season of waiting. What are we waiting for? In the Christian tradition we are waiting and anticipating the birth of Christ or the Messiah as foretold in the book of Isaiah. For many progressive Christians, Advent is time of anticipation, a time of hope, it is preparing for change, and it is a time of reflection and a time to regroup, as we prepare for the New Year. Birth represents new beginnings, new opportunities, and new ideas.

In Isaiah 2:3b-4, 7:14, 9:6-7, 40:1-10, 11, Isaiah believes that the Jews are the chosen people of God. The oracles of Isaiah are rooted in the historical setting of Jewish history, including the reign of King Uzziah, King Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, and Manasseh. During Isaiah’s time there were powerful enemies determined to destroy Judah. And so, it should not surprise us that according to Isaiah, “the spirit of the Lord rests upon God’s chosen King”. Throughout the Near East, the mark of a truly righteous King was his willingness to protect the poor, widows, and orphans.

The Hebrew name for Isaiah is Yeshayahu [means Yahweh is the source of salvation]. Isaiah, a poetic man of culture and refinement, observed nature and creation [the rocks, mountains, valley streams, flocks, and herds of Judah]. Isaiah looked upon the people of God and God’s world as being wicked and sinful; and even though his perspective of God was fraught with the wrath and judgment of God, he usually added a note of hope and comfort, promise of deliverance and promise of blessings.

Isaiah prophesied the coming of Christ, the invasion of Assyria, the Babylonian exile, and the protection of Jerusalem. Theologians refer to Isaiah as an evangelist, a man with a prophetic voice for the chosen people of Israel, speaking of future events as “at hand” or “already come to pass.” He refers to God as “the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah’s prophecies were against those nations that threatened Israel’s very existence, including Babylon and Assyria, Philistia, Moab, Damascus, Ethiopia, Arabia, and Egypt.

In this passage of scripture Isaiah has a vision, a dream, of a world of peace and justice. What would it be like if the Israelis and the Palestinians reached a peaceful solution and lived as neighbors, no longer killing each other over a piece of land? Is world peace a realistic goal that can be realized? Will there ever be a world without wars, senseless violence, free of diseases and environmental waste? Is this what Isaiah is speaking of, in our own context? Gandhi was a man of non-violence. He devoted his life to the way of Ahimsa or the way of nonviolence. Gandhi wrote “that in order for nonviolence to be a potent force, it must begin with the mind.” You and I can make a conscious choice to be peaceful individuals. How can we serve the prince of peace and not be peaceable?

 

Scripture Reading: Mark 1:1-8
[The Message Translation]

The good news of Jesus Christ—the Message! —begins here, following to the letter the scroll of the prophet Isaiah.

Watch closely: I’m sending my preacher ahead of you;
He’ll make the road smooth for you.
Thunder in the desert!
Prepare for God’s arrival!
Make the road smooth and straight!

John the Baptizer appeared in the wild, preaching a baptism of life-change that leads to forgiveness of sins. People thronged to him from Judea and Jerusalem and, as they confessed their sins, were baptized by him in the Jordan River into a changed life. John wore a camel-hair habit, tied at the waist with a leather belt. He ate locusts and wild field honey.

As he preached he said, “The real action comes next: The star in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will change your life. I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. His baptism—a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit—will change you from the inside out.”

 

WeHo UCC is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: WeHo UCC’s Zoom Meeting
Time: Nov 29, 2020 11:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

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