November 30, 2014: Why we still need a Prince of Peace

Posted on : Nov 25th, 2014 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

Why do we celebrate Advent every year? Probably because we’re still waiting for the promises of Advent to be fulfilled.

Advent is the four Sundays before Christmas. During Advent we look at “How and where Christ is coming into our Lives.” Our theme this year is “An Old Story with New Urgency.”

One of the most familiar scripture texts associated with Advent is the prophecy of Isaiah regarding the coming new realm of God wherein the lion, lamb and leopard all coexist peacefully.   That means, “The lion and the lamb will lie down together and the lion won’t have lamb chops for dinner.” Contrast that ancient image with today’s reality: urban violence is looming and what I call “Un-Holy” Wars are getting worse and worse.

Everywhere we look there is violence around us.

This week we’ve seen Ferguson, Missouri, erupt in violence. That unrest has been simmering since summer when the African-American youth, Michael Brown, was shot and killed by a Caucasian police officer, Darren Wilson. Our country is still deeply divided over issues of race. “Whites” live one reality. “Black and brown” skinned people live another. “The lion and the lamb” are not lying down together. There is no peaceful coexistence in sight.”

Same on the national scene. The number of “Un-Holy” Wars is surely on the rise. I call them “Un-Holy” because, despite our manipulation of language, there is no such thing as a “holy” war. Christianity, by the way, propagated one of the most violent “holy wars” in world history. They were known as the Crusades. A brief synopsis of the Crusades is found in Wikipedia   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crusades#Historiography

The Crusades were military campaigns sanctioned by the Latin Roman Catholic Church during the High Middle Ages and Late Middle Ages. In 1095 Pope Urban II proclaimed the First Crusade with the stated goal of restoring Christian access to holy places in and near Jerusalem. Many historians and some of those involved at the time, like Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, give equal precedence to other papal-sanctioned military campaigns undertaken for a variety of religious, economic, and political reasons, such as the Albigensian Crusade, the Aragonese Crusade, the Reconquista, and the Northern Crusades.[1] Following the First Crusade there was an intermittent 200-year struggle for control of the Holy Land, with six more major crusades and numerous minor ones. In 1291, the conflict ended in failure with the fall of the last Christian stronghold in the Holy Land at Acre, after which Roman Catholic Europe mounted no further coherent response in the east.

Religious Violence is not new. These so called, “Holy Wars” are not new and they are not holy. They are brutal and violent. They are a violation of what God intends for people of any religion. So why do religious people “buy into” the belief that these wars are “of God?”

Throughout all of Advent and Christmas one theme remains constant: Peace. Not peace in some ethereal sense, but God’s peace being born within each of us individually and between all people regardless of the differences that divide us. That “Lion and the Lamb and the Leopard” isn’t folklore. It’s God’s promise to us.

As we begin the celebration of Advent this year, an old story takes on new meaning. The promises of ancient advent suddenly have contemporary urgency. So we look to this story for a word of hope and peace as our world seems to be sinking into war and violence.

Blessings to you this Advent, as we look forward to how and where Christ is coming into our lives and world. Who knows what may be born within us this Advent?

Blessings,

Dan

~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

Isaiah 11: 1-11

“Isaiah prophesies of the coming new realm of God wherein the lion, lamb and leopard all coexist peacefully.”

Then a shoot will sprout from the stump of Jesse [the family tree of Jesse]; from Jesse’s root, a branch will blossom: +

The Spirit of God will rest on you –

            The spirit of Wisdom and understanding,

            The spirit of counsel and strength,

            The spirit of knowledge and reverence for God.

You will delight in obeying God, and you won’t judge by appearances, or make decisions by hearsay.   You will treat poor people with fairness and will uphold the rights of the land’s downtrodden.

With a single word you will strike down tyrants; with your decrees you will execute evil people. Justice will be the belt around your waist – faithfulness will gird you up.

Then the wolf will dwell with the lamb,

and the leopard will lie down with the young goat;

and the calf and the lion cub will graze together,

and a little child will lead them.

The cow will feed with the bear;

Their young will lie down together.

The lion will eat hay like the ox.

The baby will play next to the den of the cobra,

and the toddler will dance over the poisonous snake’s nest.

 

There will be no harm, no destruction anywhere in my holy mountain*

For as water fills the sea,

so the land will be filled with the knowledge of God.

On that day, the root of Jesse will serve as a symbol to the peoples of the world – nations will flock to you, and your home will be a place of honor.

+Jesse is the family lineage of King David, suggesting that a new “David,” not simply another failed descendant of David, will come into power.

*Mount Zion, as the seat of power, is emblematic of the entire country.

 Mark 13: 32-37

But as for the day or hour (of the second coming of Christ), nobody knows it – not even the angels in heaven, nor the child of God, but only God. Take heed, watch; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like someone going on a journey, who, upon leaving home, puts the servants in charge, each with a particular task, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Watch therefore – for you do not know when the sovereign will come, in the evening or at midnight, or at dawn, or in the morning – lest the sovereign come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Watch!

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