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Peace of Christ November 29, 2015

Posted by sandhandrews in Sermons.
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Isaiah 40:1-2

Advent 1

November 29, 2015

 

Focus:  God gives us comfort and joy in the Messiah.

Function:  That the hearers cast their anxieties on Christ.

Structure:  Pre-written Sermon Series, “Comfort and Joy” by Tim Klinkenberg, Drew Gerdes, and Michael Hoy via Creative Communications.

 

Peace of Christ

            The text for our message today is from Isaiah 40:1-2: ”Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”

Thanksgiving is over.  And now you find yourselves trying to figure out how many different meals you can plan from turkey leftovers, and just how long you can keep your house smelling like pumpkin pie.  Most of us have packed up the Thanksgiving decorations and shoved them back into storage.  And now, we move into the season of Advent.  Or more accurately, we leapfrog right over Advent and celebrate Christmas! Christmas? Christmas! Are you ready for Christmas? Have you started making a list? Because it’s way too early to be checking it twice!

Advent is meant to give us time to prepare for Christmas.  To prepare our hearts and minds, to set them on the coming of Christ.  To give us the time to explore, through the Scriptures, the profound comfort and joy that God promised in the Messiah and delivers in His Son Jesus laid in a manger and the end of this earth and the return of our Lord. As we explore these thoughts in the four weeks of Advent, our theme this year will be “Comfort and Joy.” In the weeks ahead we will look at the Peace of Christ, the Pardon of Christ, the Presence of Christ and the Power of Christ. Each of these will help lead us to Christmas with renewed hearts and with a great sense of what our Lord is doing in the world.

Isaiah’s words of peace and comfort in these two verses are the basis for our theme today. Isaiah’s words are spoken to a community that was struggling with violence and insecurity. Life for the people of Israel, for the people of God, seemed out of control. There was no Internet, no 24-hour news, no Twitter feeds. For all they knew the next person coming over the hill would be a commander with his army in tow seeking to destroy them. Their country had become a second-rate world power and the people were anxious.

We on the other hand get nervous because we have so much information. We are bombarded with information. A jetliner disappears off a radar screen and we have 24-hour coverage for weeks after the incident. Russia moves into the Ukraine and not only do we have newspaper stories, but we have video coverage, audio, and people giving their reports on the ground to family via smartphones.

So much information drives anxiety.  We call this “information overload.”  Constantly checking our phones, our Facebook newsfeed, whatever we can.  We want to know about something the instant it happens.  It’s an addiction, and left unchecked, it leads to uncontrollable anxiety.

The way we prepare for Christmas also builds on our anxiety. We do make lists, some on paper and many more in our minds. We have so many tasks that need to be accomplished over the next month. Gifts need to be figured out, purchased, and paid for. Cards need to be dreamed up, ordered, addressed and sent. Christmas Day dinner needs a menu, then shopping, then preparation, then serving. And enjoying the day? Maybe, if there’s time for that.

And even before the year ends, our minds are racing, wondering where we’re going and what might happen in the year ahead. While there may not be an army at our gates, there is an army of people that needs what we have. Shopping, organizing, baking, cleaning and all the tasks of the season are done with a clock running and the clock will reach zero on Christmas Day.

The Lord speaks to anxious people at an anxious time. He comes with words of comfort. He comes with words that herald God’s engagement in our anxiety. He comes with a word that the future will be peaceful. Peace begins not with the stuff that we have to do, but with God’s plan for you and me. The peace plan rumbles through the Garden of Eden, is sustained by faithful Noah, is affirmed in Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and is brought into the world through Mary. God brings peace in the presence of Jesus, His Son and our Lord.

Jesus comes to work at the root of our anxiety, He’s not just some Band-Aid to mask the symptoms. He comes to our soul and connects us to God our Father in heaven. The words of Isaiah find reality in Jesus. Jesus came to pay double for our sins. He brings us peace with God. Jesus’ peace isn’t merely the absence of anxiety, but peace that comes from God with us, from God living with us in life and death. He brings us peace! Christmas is a celebration of God’s peace for us. And we anticipate a new year full of God’s peace.

Our anxiety, along with the fear that drives it, are replaced with confidence in Christ and hope for the future. God has worked, is working, and will work in our lives and there’s no reason to believe He will quit. Indeed, there is every reason to believe and trust that He will keep on working in our lives.

For many of us, this season is filled with traditions. Some of us have a manger scene that we unpack, albeit way too early, and put up in a prominent place in our homes. Typically the scene has all the right pieces: a stable or a cave or whatever, cows, sheep, Mary and Joseph and maybe a few Magi are part of the scene also. But the central character, the most prominent piece is perhaps the smallest. It’s the piece many of us put in the scene last, but it’s clearly the most important piece. Without that little piece, the rest of the scene is useless. With that little piece the scene finds meaning for you and all who see it. That little piece in the center of the scene, lying in a manger, is your peace. It’s Jesus, who was wrapped in cloth and laid in a manger. He is God’s answer to anxiety and worry. He is God’s remedy to fear. He is your Savior from sin and death.  Jesus is the center not only of that scene, but of yours. He comes to live with you and in you. He comes to be the center of the season. He comes to be our peace. Amen.

 

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