Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World

Gifts of Advent, Hope

November 30, 2020 Pastor Dave Tucker Season 5 Episode 1
Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World
Gifts of Advent, Hope
Chapters
Spiritual Living in a Chaotic World
Gifts of Advent, Hope
Nov 30, 2020 Season 5 Episode 1
Pastor Dave Tucker

Suffice it to say, if ever a people need hope it is us. I don’t know if you have noticed, things aren’t going the way they are supposed to go. We are in the midst of a pandemic that is separating us from those we love. Because of Covid-19 we are all living in fear! We are in the midst of social unrest… political unrest… religious unrest… We are a divided people in almost every aspect possible. 

Based on Isaiah 64:1-9.

Show Notes Transcript

Suffice it to say, if ever a people need hope it is us. I don’t know if you have noticed, things aren’t going the way they are supposed to go. We are in the midst of a pandemic that is separating us from those we love. Because of Covid-19 we are all living in fear! We are in the midst of social unrest… political unrest… religious unrest… We are a divided people in almost every aspect possible. 

Based on Isaiah 64:1-9.

We start the first Sunday of Advent with a lament. We’re not quite sure what is going on here to cause the writing of this lament, but it couldn’t have been good. If ever a people needed hope it was the Hebrew People. Things weren’t going the way they were supposed to go. It was as if God had removed God’s hand of protection from God’s People. If only… the prophet thinks aloud… If only God would rip open the sky and open up a can of… well you know… There was a time where God would do that for God’s people. Those who were causing harm to God’s people would meet the wrath of God in full measure. Oceans would swallow up enemy troops, city walls would collapse, and celestial beings would descend and fight their battles for them. 

This time was different. God’s people were in a tight spot and more than anything, they needed to see God’s hand at work… They needed hope. Let us pray: 

(Prayer for Illumination) 

Our scripture for today is found in the book of Isaiah, chapter 64 verses 1-9. The Prophet Isaiah is speaking… I’m reading from the NRSV: 

O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,

                  so that the mountains would quake at your presence—

2        as when fire kindles brushwood

                  and the fire causes water to boil—

         to make your name known to your adversaries,

                  so that the nations might tremble at your presence!

3        When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect,

                  you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.

4        From ages past no one has heard,

                  no ear has perceived,

         no eye has seen any God besides you,

                  who works for those who wait for him.

5        You meet those who gladly do right,

                  those who remember you in your ways.

         But you were angry, and we sinned;

                  because you hid yourself we transgressed.

6        We have all become like one who is unclean,

                  and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.

         We all fade like a leaf,

                  and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

7        There is no one who calls on your name,

                  or attempts to take hold of you;

         for you have hidden your face from us,

                  and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.

8        Yet, O LORD, you are our Father;

                  we are the clay, and you are our potter;

                  we are all the work of your hand.

9        Do not be exceedingly angry, O LORD,

                  and do not remember iniquity forever.

                  Now consider, we are all your people.

 As we take this lament from Isaiah and place it in the context of the Advent season, we see God’s people looking for God again. It is as if God had removed God’s protective hand from God’s people. Things just weren’t going the way they were supposed to be going. God’s people were in a strange type of exile. They were in their homeland, but they were governed by the oppressive government of Rome. Rome had their hands in everything it seems. The king was chosen, not by God, but by Nero. Rome would hire Jews to collect the oppressive taxes and gave the tax collectors permission to charge whatever additional they wanted in order to pad their own pockets. 

The religious leaders were also seeking power. God’s people were being oppressed by the very ones who were supposed to lead them to God. The temple was built by King Herod, whom we already determined was placed on the throne by Rome. So, it was to the religious leaders’ advantage to appease Rome and not cause any waves. If only God would rip open the sky and deliver judgement as God had in times past. God’s people were in a tight spot and more than anything, they needed to see God’s hand at work… They needed hope. As we progress through the advent season, we find that gift of hope came in the form of a baby. God in flesh! LOVE in flesh!

As we place this lament into our context today…. Well, suffice it to say, if ever a people needs hope it is us. I don’t know if you have noticed, things aren’t going the way they are supposed to go. We are in the midst of a pandemic that is separating us from those we love. Because of Covid-19 we are all living in fear! We are in the midst of social unrest… political unrest… religious unrest… We are a divided people in almost every aspect possible. It is as if God has removed God’s hand of protection from us. If only God would rip open the sky and take us away from this world! People have been waiting for Jesus to return since the time He ascended into heaven… perhaps this is a time for us to lament. How long, Lord? How long?

Let me give you a little hope this morning… Jesus WILL INDEED come again and will take us to live with Him forever.  Listen to the words of Jesus in John 14:1-3, (NRSV) “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. 

John the Revelator gives us a beautiful image of God wiping tears from our eyes as a parent wipes tears from a child who is hurting… “There, there, all will be well.” On that day, when heaven and earth are one, and God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven, pain and suffering and death, will be no more. But don’t take my word for it, listen to the words of John in Revelation 21:3-4, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.”

I don’t know about you, but this gives me goosebumps. Knowledge that this suffering will soon be a thing of the past brings me hope! Sadly, however, there are millions in this world who don’t have this hope. It is up to us to spread the message! Sometimes, however, we get so wrapped up in the thought of “One day, Jesus will take me away from all this,” that we forget about the here and now! We need to create a little heaven on earth so that all who come into contact with us will be drawn to Jesus through us. As we studied last week, we can give the gift of hope by being sermons in shoes! We give the gift of hope to others by feeding the hungry, giving a cup of cold water to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, tending to the sick and freeing the imprisoned.

         And by the way, in so doing, we discover that we are actually serving Jesus, and we are rejuvenated with hope for ourselves.

AMEN

Journal Prompts

·       5 Daily Gratitudes

·       In what ways are you struggling with hope?

·       What are some ways that you can provide hope to those in your life?