December 8, 2013: “God or”

Posted on : Dec 5th, 2013 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

Last Sunday evening on CBS’s “60 Minutes” news program, there was a segment with Jeff Bezos, founder of “”   Bezos was introducing a new service that Amazon hopes to offer shortly, home delivery by mini-drones.  Yes, you read that correctly.

The once controversial “un-manned” weapon of mass destruction (the drone) is now being developed for super-fast “home delivery” service.  This gives new meaning to the words of the Prophet Isaiah in this Sunday’s prophetic reading:  “The lion and the lamb shall lie down together” (and the lion will not have lamb chops for dinner!) as well as Isaiah’s other often quoted prophecy: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.” 

When Isaiah said those words – about 8 centuries before the birth of Christ – he used common, every day images:  swords and spears, lions and lambs, but did something with them that no one could imagine.  He prophesied that “the lion and the lamb” would like down together – and live in peace; and that the weapons of war (swords and spears) would be turned into tools for farming – for growing the very food that was needed to sustain the community’s life.

Why was that so unimaginable?  Because the historical period covered by the book of Isaiah begins around the mid to late 8th century before the birth of Christ (BC).  During this period Assyria was expanding westward from its origins in modern-day northern Iraq towards the Mediterranean, destroying first Aram (modern Syria) in 734–732 BC, then the kingdom of Israel in 722-721BC, and finally subjugating Judah in 701BC.

But it didn’t stop there.  In 586 BC the Babylonians moved in and conquered the Assyrians.  Both regimes were violently brutal.  The people of Israel lived for over 200 years in exile from their homeland and experience brutal torture and terrorism.  The very thought that this horrible way of life could change was unimaginable at the time.  After all, they had lived as prisoners in captivity for hundreds of years.  Life was not good.    But the prophet Isaiah had a word of hope for them:  things were going to radically change, and for the better.

How appropriate it is then, that John the Baptist used those words of Isaiah as he announced the change that was coming from God with the birth of the Christ!  John quotes directly from the prophet Isaiah,

“A voice cries in the wilderness:
Prepare the way of our God,
make straight the path of God.”

This Sunday as we continue our Advent series “It’s about Presence, not just presents,” we’re going to focus on the spiritual experience of “Discovering God’s Presence When Things Need to Change.”  What needs to change in your life, right now?  Whatever it is, Isaiah and John the Baptist give us these words of hope:

Wherever there is anything
that blocks our life-path,
clear it, remove it,
unblock it, level it out, O God.

Which do you have more faith in:  That God will help you change your life now or that Amazon will have drones delivering your order right to your front steps within the next 3-5 years?

Admit it.  God lost.  Amazon won.  So what does this tell us about how, who and where we expect change to happen in our lives?  We all better come to church this Sunday!  We need to have more faith in God than in Amazon!



~ This Sunday’s Scriptures ~

Isaiah 11: 1-10

Isaiah offers a prophecy for a new way of life in which there will be peace with all people and with God.

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse [the family tree of Jesse];
and a branch shall grow out of its roots.

And the Spirit of God shall rest upon this branch,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of God.

And the delight of the one who is coming shall be in God.

That one shall not judge by what our eyes see or decide by what our ears hear,
but shall judge the poor with righteousness
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth,

The one who is coming shall be girded with righteousness and with faithfulness.

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 crawling baby will play next to the den of the cobra,
and the toddler will dance over the poisonous snake’s nest.

They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea.

In that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a sign to the nations that this is the one whom they shall seek, whose dwellings shall be glorious.

Matthew 3: 1-12

John the Baptist announces a big change that is happening:
“Repent, for the realm of heaven is at hand!”

In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Change your hearts and minds, for the reign of heaven is about to break in upon you!”

It was John that the prophet Isaiah described when Isaiah prophesied,

“A voice cries in the wilderness:
Prepare the way of our God,
make straight the path of God.”

Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair, and a leather girdle around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.  At that time, Jerusalem, all Judea and all the region about the Jordan went out to John, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

When John saw that many of the Pharisees and Sadducees were coming to be baptized John said to them, “You pack of snakes!  Who told you to flee from the coming wrath?”   Give some evidence that you mean to reform!  And don’t pride yourselves on the claim, ‘Sarah and Abraham are our parents.’  I tell you, God can raise children for Sarah and Abraham from these very stones!

Even now the ax is laid to the root of the tree.  Every tree that is not fruitful will be cut down and thrown into the fire.  I will baptize you in water if you have a change of heart, but the One who will follow me is more powerful than I.  I’m not fit even to untie the sandals of the Coming One!  That One will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire.”

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