Summary: One can never start too early to get ready for something really big.
Isaiah’s Audacious Hope
Rev. Brian Bill
Do you know that after today, there are only 21 more shopping days left until Christmas? Some people panic when they hear this but for me it means that I still have three weeks before I have to begin my shopping! Doesn’t it seem like a lot of stores start their sales earlier each year? Instead of waiting until Thanksgiving to kick off Christmas now we’re hearing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” right after Halloween. If this keeps up, Labor Day will launch the crush of the Christmas rush. How many of you went shopping on “Black Friday?” Retailers love this day because it helps them get in the “black” financially. Beth was at a store by 5:00 a.m. but returned before the sun was up because of long lines and short fuses.
Against our culture’s call to consume the clutter of Christmas, stands the simple yet profound season of Advent. This word means “coming” and refers to the coronation of a King. Traditionally it’s been a time for prayer, penitence and preparation to help believers slow down enough to savor the Savior’s birth. I see Advent as a spiritual journey that helps us focus on the greatest gift of all so that we can worship the Word made flesh with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. Special music and readings and candles and sermons will help us reflect and rejoice. As we experience the ancient/future dimension of this time of the year, it strikes me that one can never start too early when getting ready for something really big.
While we are not known to be a liturgical church, we’ll be using an Advent Wreath with four candles, said by some to represent the four centuries of waiting between Malachi and Matthew. We’ll light a different candle each week, shining the light on the themes of hope, peace, joy and love through different readings by families in our church. This will help create a sense of expectation so that we don’t just get caught up in the consumerism of our culture. Many of you will be having special meal times around an Advent Wreath in your home as well. Using rich reminders from Scriptures our aim is to keep the Christ of Christmas present in the midst of all the presents as we focus on his first “coming” to this world. We want His beauty to shine bright in the busyness of our lives. And that can only happen when we slow down.
Introduction to Isaiah
Allow me to make just a few points that will serve as an introduction to this book.
• Isaiah has been called the “fifth gospel” because it is filled with so much good news.
• While the book is brimming with glory and good news, it also contains some gloom as well. This is summed up in Isaiah 60:2: “See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and His glory appears over you.”
• Isaiah was written about 700 years before the time of Christ, a fact that should cause us to wonder and worship as we contemplate how specifically these prophecies were fulfilled in the person of Jesus. Isaiah would say that one can never start too early when getting ready for something really big.