Scripture: Isaiah 65:17-25 Jan Savory
Waiting in Hope
Today is the first Sunday of Advent, that time in the church year when we wait in hope for the joyful coming of the Christ. The one who came once as a baby, is always here and who will come again. This is the paradox of Advent, that we wait for an end that is not a “then” but an ever-present “now”. This is a mystery beyond our puny human understanding, but a truth we can attest to if we believe the promises of God and live in the Risen Christ..
The Messiah – the Israelites waited in hope
The idea of the Messiah (the anointed one, translated in English as the Christ) can be traced through the writings of the Hebrew prophets. Through the centuries the Messiah was a symbol of hope to the Israelites. They were waiting in hope for his coming.
This small nation occupied a strategic piece of land. For much of their history they were either threatened by or occupied by the larger powers in their doorstep. What better hope for an insignificant nation beset by more powerful warring neighbours than a powerful, charismatic leader? One who would rule the Jewish people and the world, ushering in an age of justice and peace. All nations would recognize the God of Israel as the only true God and there would be peace on Earth.
The Messiah – we wait in hope
The prophets were addressing situations in their own time. Was the Messiah a human being or the nation of Israel itself, as some have implied? Either way, it is a mistake to think the prophets were dreaming of the Son of God as we know him in Jesus the Christ. So, are we wrong, as Christians in reading references to Jesus in the prophets? My friend, Victor Steele, a writer and teacher, would say, “Not at all!” He wrote in one of his books: “It is only the wonderful economy of God the Holy Spirit that … provided through [the Prophets] an eternal significance entirely beyond their own imagining”.
It is through the working of the Holy Spirit that we are waiting in hope as we prepare for the coming of Jesus. That, like the early Israelites, we get hope from the words of the Hebrew prophets.
Thy Kingdom come
We are looking forward in Advent not only. to the birth of a baby in Bethlehem, And also to the time of God’s Kingdom on Earth. As Christians, we interpret the Bible in different ways, and that’s OK. since none of us can know all the ways of God. And, nowhere is this more evident than when we talk about how God will usher in the kingdom. Jesus told us it has “come near”, that it’s “within us”. I believe that the Kingdom, the second coming, comes to each of us as we work to co-create it with God
How will the kingdom come?
How do you think the Kingdom is .coming? At the end of time; with Jesus coming, as the hymn says, “on clouds descending” to judge the world? Or, like Teilhard de Chardin, in an evolution of the spirit going higher and higher, ultimately reaching what he called the Omega Point? Or, most likely we hold one of many views in between. That’s not what is important. What matters is that God is in charge and the world here and to come is unfolding according to God’s plan. This is our hope and comfort this Advent and always.
Maranatha. Come Lord Jesus
So, with Christians throughout the ages, as we prepare for a New Heaven and a new Earth, we pray: “Maranatha. Come Lord Jesus”. Amen