the one about the waiting room
December 1, 2016, 12:00 AM

Mid-Week Advent Sermon - Nov. 30, 2016

Text: Isaiah 2: 1-5

Grace and peace to you this evening as we begin our Advent Wednesday Evening Services. During this Advent, we will look at a different text from our readings from the previous Sunday. Allowing us to take a greater pause with further contemplation in how God continues to speak to us during this time and place.

At this time during the middle of the week we get to take an intentional break during the busyness of our lives. Our hectic schedules, our need to be ‘caught up’ in our purchasing, our cards, our traditions, and more. During Advent this year, we purposefully seat ourselves in the waiting room.

In many ways, that is what Advent is; a waiting room. A place in which we reside as we wait for the good news to come. Sitting in the waiting room – most times – isn’t all that fun. Especially as we are racked with anxiety and worry about what is going on beyond those doors. Perhaps a friend is in labor, a spouse is in surgery, a child is testing or interviewing. Being in the waiting room doesn’t ease our worries and burdens.

Yet, the surprise of the waiting room is that God is there present with us. Calling to us and inviting us to see God at work in new and marvelous ways. Ways we wouldn’t expect, ways that we don’t anticipate, ways that we thought God wouldn’t possibly be involved or interested in.

This evening, we hear of that first surprise as it is told to us through the words of Isaiah.

As Christians, we look at this text and are surprised by the fact that God apparently dwells in this lofty place atop a mountain. Insert all your own thoughts about the ‘wise man’ on the mountain.

Yet, we remember that the first surprise that we encounter during this season of Advent – as we wait in expectant hope – is that God has come down from the mountain on high. God has come to dwell with us in the Word made flesh; in Christ our Lord.

As Christians, we envision that stream not going to a mountain, but to Christ himself. And when we get there, we are surprised again.

When I talk to people and they ask, “pastor, what will it be like to be in front of God on that day? To sit at the table prepared by Jesus?”

My response is that someone will probably ask Jesus, “Which one of us was right?”

I imagine that Jesus’ response will be surprising, I like to think that Jesus’ answer would be something along the lines of, “Some of you were a little right, some of you were a little wrong – but, you’re all here now and that’s what matters.”

We come to Jesus and the thing we do – according to Isaiah’s vision – is that we sit and learn. We learn the ways of God. We learn new things. We learn old things. To me, that’s pretty surprising.

Especially in light of what that ‘learning’ teaches us through this vision. Weapons of war beaten down into tools for the community. No longer will we rise up against one another, and we won’t learn war anymore.

Most of all, we come to learn from God.

Learning is an interesting activity. Learning is a practice where we may be forced to acknowledge that the answers we know might be wrong. That’s scary. That’s unnerving.

The surprise of Advent is that it’s true. The answers we know just might be and are wrong. You talk to anyone during the time before Jesus’ birth about who and what the messiah would be like and I imagine that they’d all agree that whoever the messiah would be, that person wouldn’t be a baby born to country parents out of wedlock.

We’ve been taught from the earliest of times that if someone wrongs you – especially on such large scales that deal with nations and armies – you retaliate. We see retaliation as the best and most effective course to take.

Yet, Isaiah tells of a vision where weapons of war – swords and spears – are beaten down into plowshares and pruning hooks. Today, what might those weapons of war – guns, bombs, tanks, and planes – be ‘beaten down’ into? What sorts of tools of community and life might we be visioning for today; that God might bring about in the ending of war? What does that kingdom of God look like for us? We may – we might – have an inkling of what it could look like, but God’s vision is perhaps even greater than what we could ever imagine.

This advent season – and every Advent – we hear of these end times. Times envisioned by Isaiah, by John, by Jesus, and others and we always approach them with fear and trepidation. It’s understandable because of the language that is used and the ‘unknown’ that comes along with it.

Yet, during Advent that sense of dread is replaced by hope. And that, my sisters and brothers is probably the biggest surprise. That the ‘end’ that is to come is one of hope and presence. We get to come sit and learn at the feet of our Lord. Learning war no more.

Learning something else. Something different. Learning God’s ways so that we might walk in that path with and towards Jesus.

This is the season of Advent. This season full of surprise – let us walk in the light of the Lord. Amen.

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