A New Day is Dawning
Sunday, December 13, 2020
Pastor Deb Kielsmeier
Waiting in the dark. It is one of the big themes of Advent.
Waiting… Waiting… Waiting for the light of Life to appear.
Waiting is not my favorite activity. It feels like we are not doing anything, yet it requires incredible patience and hope. It often provokes anxiety and depression. Have you noticed? And never mind waiting for Christmas – we have had NINE MONTHS of practice with waiting this year – waiting for a solution to this pandemic. Waiting for life to return to normal.
Waiting is hard!! Our text for today is a message to Judah – a people who THOUGHT they were DONE with all the waiting.
It had been SEVEN decades after all. Seven decades of waiting in a foreign land under the heel of their oppressors. Sitting around the fire at night, parents and grandparent told stories to the children. Stories of the land they had been forced to leave. A land filled with vineyards and olive groves and sheep dotting the hillsides– where they enjoyed feasts and festivals and the beauty of Solomon’s temple. They remembered and yearned and prayed that someday – someday… they might return to that land and that life again.
Their captors changed hands and eventually the Persian King Cyrus came to power. Amazingly, he set them free to return to Judah, to Jerusalem – to the land and cities they loved. Overjoyed with expectation and excitement – they headed home. But what they found when they got there caused their hearts to sink. Their homes, long abandoned were in disrepair. Animals ran in and out, doors off their hinges, Walls tumbled down. Solomon’s glorious temple was wrecked. Fields and vineyards were choked with brambles and food was scarce.
They were standing knee deep in rubble –
Covering their faces, shaking their heads, tears welling up – they cried out. Really God? THIS is what you promised?
Into these dashed hopes and dreams, this dark reality – the prophet speaks.
“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news…”
Good news! Finally – Good news! Good news for the oppressed, and healing for those with broken hearts, comfort for those who mourn and liberty for the captives. Health, comfort, freedom and peace were coming.
Not only that Isaiah declares that “They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall repair the ruined cities and raise up the devastation. They shall stand like Oaks of Righteousness. They had a future. The suffering would not go on forever. A new day would dawn.
We know what it is like to see things coming apart around us, don’t we? Travel plans and Christmas gatherings cancelled; Jobs lost, financial resources drained, dreams dashed and so, so many deaths. It kind of feels like we are knee deep in rubble- dreaming of our ‘old’ life. And yes, waiting. Waiting in the darkness of an unknown future.
Waiting is hard, but we are not alone. Uncertainty surrounds us, but God is a rock under our feet and God walks with us. Always.
Jesus, when he gave his first sermon in the synagogue of his hometown of Nazareth read this passage from the Isaiah scroll: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” After he read the passage, he looked into their eyes and said, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
This is Jesus’ mission. This is our God’s heart. To make all things new. To give us a future and a hope. So, friends, let us lift up our eyes from the ruin and rubble at our feet. Darkness may surround us, but look – do you see it? There – On the horizon… A new dawn, a new future, is breaking in.
God is on the move – Coming to us. Like seeds in a garden springing up to new life… Like a baby growing heavy in his mother’s womb – the God who makes all things new is coming. Coming with garlands instead of our ashes, the oil of gladness instead of our mourning, and a mantle of praise instead of our faint spirit.
Let us hope and rejoice. Our God is near!
Come Lord Jesus.
Your people are waiting with open arms.
We are watching with open hearts.
You are our future.
Come. Lord Jesus. Come.