Rose Park Sunday School (Adults and Children) at 8:45 a.m. / Worship at 9:45 a.m.

Madison Sunday School (Adults and Children) 10:15 a.m. / Worship at 11:15 a.m.

Sermon Notes 112722

Isaiah 2:1-5, Psalm 122, Romans 13:11-14, Matthew 24:36-44

Isaiah 2:1-5

1 The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 2 In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it. 3 Many peoples shall come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4 He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. 5 O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!

Romans 13:11-14

11 Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12 the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13 let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Matthew 24:36-44

36 “But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, 39 and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. 42 Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.

Are You Ready?

My grandmother, Granny, loved to go out: to shop, to eat, to sightsee. Even as she reached older age, she would go for a stroll each day from her house to “tour” the downtown. As a child, I would almost have to jog to keep up. She would stop in the shops and visit with people and she always included a stop at the Fountain Corner to enjoy a Co-cola! One of my earliest memories is of Granny sitting in her chair with her purse by her side. She was ready to “go” at a moment’s notice because she didn’t want to miss any opportunity to go out. 

Advent is a time of preparation for the arrival of the Christ child. A time to get ready, a time to prepare. By prepare, I don’t mean cooking, cleaning, or decorating in the traditional sense. I love decorating for Christmas, and I can’t wait to experience this activity with the awe and wonder of a child. Decorating for the arrival of the Christ Child is special and I enjoy the memories attached to each moment. I purposely set aside time to meditate and enjoy the precious birth as I sit and stare at the festive lights. For me, the lights represent a simpler time in a stable long, long ago. The prophet, Isaiah, invites us to rejoice in the light. 5 O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!

However, we can easily be so consumed by the earthly conventions that we have attached to the holidays, that we miss the miracle altogether. What does it take to get our attention among the chaos to recognize Christ? Beautiful song by Joseph Martin

Would I miss the miracle?

Would I see the King?

Or would my life be so consumed by ordinary things?

Would I miss the wonder?

The hope that Christmas brings.

Would I miss the miracle?

Would I see the King?

In Romans, Paul asks, “What must we give up and what must we take on in order to live fully in the light of Christ?”

  • First, we must wake up!
    • We are not zombies moving without emotion from one place to another.
  • We must shake off sleepiness, complacency, cynicism, fear, and anything else that tempts us to wander from our focus on Christ. 
  • We who are followers of Jesus have work to do!
    • Advent is a time of preparation.
    • Just like a favorite story, the words of Advent are comforting, exciting, and worth revisiting year after year. We approach each Advent from a different place and time in our lives. The possibilities of new revelations lie within the text.
    • Some may say, “I’ve heard it all before.” “What’s the big deal, anyway?”
    • The big deal is that God is sending Jesus, his beloved son to walk among us for a time, to teach us, to turn the world upside down, and to save us!
  • Second, we must get dressed, and we are to dress ourselves in Jesus Christ.
    • What in the world does this mean? Should we grab our tunics and sandals? 
    • To dress ourselves in Christ means that we put on the love, the compassion, the truthfulness, and the assurance of Christ. 
    • When we prepare for our day, we wrap those qualities around ourselves before we put on our outer garments for the day. 
    • Our attitude imust be one of gratitude, and our commitment is to serve the risen Christ this day wherever we are, with what we have to offer, and with everyone we meet. 
    • John Wesley said it this way, “Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, to all the souls you can, in every place you can, at all the times you can, with all the zeal you can, as long as ever you can.”

Advent is a time of looking back through the eyes of our modern-day perspective. Isaiah was speaking to the people of Jerusalem who had endured wars, exile, and destruction. God’s chosen people were not exempt from the ravages of evil. When we consider the brokenness of our world today, we are saddened by the senseless violence that continues to shake our vision of God’s plan, but now as then, God will prevail! 

Advent is the preparation for a time of Great Joy! Linus started with these words from Luke 2:10: And the angel said unto them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.This is not a blind joy or a joy that neglects the brokenness and the need that surrounds us. If anything, it opens our eyes to what is really happening in the world and in us. It calls us back to a sense of watchful waiting for signs of God’s kingdom breaking out in surprising places, at unexpected times, among people we might not have chosen.

Last week we considered what it means to be a child of God and to view the world through the eyes of children. As Isaiah looked at God’s people, he could see the problems: war, famine, and injustice. He could see all that. But through God, he could see the hope, the Word at work, even when evil was working all around him. Despite the power-hungry leaders who seemed consumed by only their own needs, and the people who blindly followed the distractors into the chaos, Isaiah saw the Word. He saw another way, another hope. 

It seems to me that the call of Advent is not to proclaim doom, but to see hope, to see possibilities, even when no one else can see them. We are called to not give up on hope and to walk in the light of the Lord. Walk by the light we see in hope; move toward the kind of world God has in store; work for what makes for peace—even while we work to repair what is broken. Advent is a time to return, a time of new beginnings as we prepare again for the birth of a baby! Not just any baby, but our Savior who is coming to save our world from the brokenness of society. 

Maybe the gladness can return here as Advent begins to take over again. Maybe what we can remember is that we gather not for an empty ritual that doesn’t make any difference in the world or in our lives, not really. But what we go to the house of the Lord to do is to learn peace, to learn how to live peacefully, and how to teach peace. We are being made into disciples – disciples who make disciples – of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. That is the Advent proclamation. We’re transforming the world. The whole world.

This morning the Good News begins with a promise, According to our scriptures, the Son of Man will come. When? We do not know. How? We do not know. Where? We do not know. In what form? We do not know. What will happen to us when the Son of Man comes? We do not know that either.  Wait a minute, how can we be ready if we don’t know these answers? Come on, give us even one answer and we will be ready! If you feel somewhat bewildered, you are not alone. In Mark 13:32 we read, 32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. It is not ours to know, it is ours to rely on the promise. 

Let’s reread verses 43 and 44, we find the direction that Matthew has given us before. 

[43 But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.]

The reality of the unexpected arrival of the Son of Man is still with us. Matthew records the words of Jesus that encourage us again to be ready and watchful! As children of God, we have opportunities every day to love, care for, and give hope to those around us and beyond us. We are gathering in the Lord’s house to restore our mission, to restore our hearts, to restore our gladness. In this time of great joy: He has made me glad, He has made me glad. I will rejoice for he has made me glad.

Fear not, I am with you: Do not be afraid. The Lord is with us, ready to bless our lives and give us hope. God is bringing to us the greatest gift of all. Watch! Be ready! Don’t miss the miracle! Our blessing is on it’s way. 

Lord of hope, you bless our lives every day. We sometimes forget that all these blessings come from you and we overlook them or decide that we just deserve all the wonderful things that come our way. It seems that every year the push for commercial holiday expectations comes earlier and earlier. By the time we approach the true Holy Day we are exhausted; we cannot gather the strength to praise you. Make us ready, Lord. Slow us down and help us find release from the demands. Enable us to make decisions that will build hope and community, rather than foster greed and selfishness. Help us reach out to others with gifts of kindness and peace. Enter our hearts, not with demands, but with a gentle reminder of the peace you bring. For we ask this in Jesus’ Name, AMEN.