Summary: The sermon utilizes Maya Angelou’s Amazing Peace to lift up critical issues raised during this Christmas season and examines how the promisie of the Messiaha responds to those conderns.
Amazing Peace: A Promise of Prosperity
As we lend our attention to the advent season I am cautiously optimistic about what this season brings in the light of a difficult year in our nations history. As we examine the past twelve months we find ourselves needing a season of prosperity, needing a season of joy, needing a season of peace. Maya Angelou at the lighting of the national Christmas tree shared her latest creation “Amazing Peace” A Christmas Poem. Over the next few weeks as our attention continues to hone in on Christmas we will use her gifted tribute to celebrate our Christ.
Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes
And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Floodwaters await in our avenues.
Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to avalanche
Our unprotected villages.
The sky slips low and gray and threatening.
We question ourselves. What have we done to affront nature?
We interrogate and worry God.
Are you there? Are you there, really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?
The opening few stanzas of the poem truly lifts an interesting interrogative that at one time seemed ludicrous but in the light of the mark that 2005 has left on our world, on our nation and for many of us, our lives we are forced to admit even if not expressed verbally seem to be apropos. An ominous cloud hangs low over this America of ours as we move toward the Yule Tide season. Our military service persons are at war, although the war is officially over. Our neighbors along the gulf coast are still displaced and attempting to puzzle their lives back together after the destruction of one hurricane upon another. Earthquakes, mudslides and other natural disasters have plagued the world over. If this is not enough, many of us that have gathered here to worship come with heavy hearts and burdened spirits because of what we have had to deal with in our personal lives. There has been and there continue to be what can be described as a floodwaters of tears, an avalanche of sorrow, and the thunderous roar of trouble the pervades almost every arena of our lives. I hate to think of someone who does not have a relationship with the lord in the climate that we presently abide. How awful it is to be outside of the ark of safety when the floodgates have been opened. If there ever was a time that the people needed Jesus it is now. If you have ever considered sharing Christ with someone I would have you know, now in a time of civil unrest, nature’s upheaval, political persecution on the world’s stage, this is that time. People need Jesus, they don’t need another self help book, they don’t need an emerging political figure, they don’t need a stronger military they need the Lord. For the weary saint, for the worn warrior, for the battled and beleaguered believer, who in the light of desperation spins the interrogatives of the poem, What have we done to affront nature? God, are you there, are you there really? Does the covenant you made with us still hold?
Thesis Three things are here promised, and they all point ultimately at the grace of the gospel, which the saints then were to comfort themselves with the hopes of in every cloudy and dark day, as we now are to comfort ourselves in time of trouble with the hopes of Christ’s second coming, though that be now, as his first coming then was, a thing at a great distance. The mercy likewise which God has in store for his church in the latter days may be a support to those that are mourning with her for her present calamities. We have here the promise,
1. Of a glorious light, But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. 2 F28 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined.
The prophetic message is given in the past tense as to imply that which the prophet is referring has already happened. Yet the events of the text is prophetic from the perspective of the prophet or it is something yet to come. From the perspective of the modern age this is something that has happened not something that will happen. What is amazing is that in the light of where they were and where we are the prophetic message is heavenly good news to weary souls. It was impending good news to the audience in which Isaiah proclaims his message and it is a reminder to those of us that read it from the leaflets of antiquity. Is it that history has repeated itself, a sage proverb is that if we don’t remember our past we are bound to repeat that past. A second is similar if we don’t learn from our mistakes we are bound to repeat them. This very well may accurately depict the state that our world is presently in or least there are strange parallels between the beleaguered community in which the prophet addresses his message and where we are today. Maya Angelou’s poem ask does the covenant still hold. How difficult in the midst of gloom and despair to keep ones focus on the promise of prosperity. Yet the text tells of a great light. Notice the progression of the light, those who saw the great light is described as those who walked in darkness and those who live in a deep darkness on them the light has shined. This is prophetic promise to those in Isaiah’s day and glorious fulfillment in the coming of the Christ, and glorious reflection for those of us here today. Yet for those who are in darkness because of the despair of the present age who ask is the covenant still valid the answer is an overwhelming yes. Those that are experiencing the darkness that life sometimes emit have the promise on them the light has shined. In our darkest moments in the midst of trials the glorious light of salvation shines and shines brightly. No sin so great as to separate from God, no hardship so painful that God refuses to show mercy, no trial so tumultuous that God is not greater. Despite the struggles the light shines in darkness.