Sermon, Sunday Dec 1, 2013, St Petri
Advent 1 “Making Room” – It’s worth it
Isaiah 2:1-5The word that Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. 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. 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. He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!
IF ONLY I HAD KNOWN
“If I had known then what I now know I would have given up a bed”
“If only I had known…”.
If I had known she was carrying the Christ child I would have given them my own bed.
If only I had known that that kid would go on to play national hockey, I would have paid more attention to her presence when she played juniors around here.
If only I had of know – I would have made room…..
If only I had known that shares in that company would skyrocket I would have bought into much more of the company.
If only I had known that life after school was a little more difficult and lonely than I now know it to be, I would have tried to enjoy school time more.
If only I had known……
If only I had known that at the end of 2013 God was interrupting my busy and full life, or my broken and painful life – or both, to show me my sin and brokenness and truly undo me. Not with suppressing guilt and condemnation of me but with sheer love for me – and all so I could truly know, so that I could make room and know love and freedom and joy again – so that I could again truly see that baby in that shed for real…
YOU ALWAYS MAKE ROOM BECAUSE YOU NEVER KNOW
The Innkeeper said in hindsight, “You never know who may show up”. His Mum always told him, “You never know who God may bring your way so, you always make room”.
I wonder whether we will regret that we didn’t make room for God’s interruption of our lives Christmas 2013 and wish that we would have made room for him.
ISAIAH’S GRAND VISION
God’s people of old were told about God’s interruption to their many plans. Isaiah spent his life calling people into God’s promises to make all things new and create a better life, better relationships, wiser decisions and more fulfilled community life with the Lord fully involved.
He rang out the invitation…
“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”.
Isaiah beckoned his people to come to God to receive good teaching for living, for hope, for relationships so that they could live with God, conduct themselves in his way of grace in all dimensions of life.
As God’s people gathered in God’s presence to hear his Word and receive his instruction on how to live and worship and conduct themselves in his grace toward all people, everyone would want to join them and God’s gathering would include all peoples from all places.
So much so that the once outsider people on the fringe of the community or way outside it would be the ones doing the inviting. They newbies would be the one’s echoing Isaiah’s invitation, “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.”
And as a result of all this calling and gathering and loving by God, the world would be changed. The hardest thing to change would be changed for the better – the human heart.
The age old drive to win, to control, to dominate, to laud it over each other would be done away with- so much so that bombs, guns, drones, RPG’s and etc would be melted down and beaten into ploughs for planting food to feed people rather than for destruction of the land and killing people.
2:4 He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
What a grand vision. How could you not respond to it with thanks and with the will to learn from the Lord and know his ways of living your life so that all of this would become reality in your family and nation and world?
THEY DID NOT LISTEN
They did not listen to Isaiah. He spent most of his life on the outer from the powerful people and popular opinion. They carried on with their delusions of grandeur and striving to make their win life their way very often. They made idols and they chased them. They fell in love with other theories, approaches, faiths and loves that could never deliver even 1/10 of God’s grand promise of new life and community.
God promised and they did not trust.
God delivered messenger after messenger and they did not trust – they rejected and stones them all.
God loved and they said “talk to the hand”.
BUT GOD IS UNWAVERING
But the relentless God of grace kept calling, kept gathering, kept enlightening and outdid what he did through Isaiah and all the prophets.
God the Father gave himself in his dearly loved Son to a broken, ignorant, busy, fearful, worldly content people. God entered into the rejection, the lack of trust, the arrogant busyness and striving for control of power and the rest and took it all on himself to change once and for all.
And here he is. The little guy in-neutero out the front of that little Inn – ready to come crying into the world among cattle poo and hay to a confused man and a scared young girl and an Inn keeper who wished he had known – who wished he made room in his inn and in his life for this pure gift of peace, because “you never know who God sends your way…”
WILL YOU MAKE ROOM?
Will you make room this time around? Do you already know? Do you want to know him? Are you anticipating anything this Christmas besides the food and family and the ritual? Is Jesus anywhere in the room? Is new faith, new hope, change, new teaching and learning anywhere in the building – anywhere in the heart? Do you really want to experience the relentless grace of God pouring through your soul like light streaming in through the roof of that hay shed roof?
Why don’t you? Why don’t you make some room? Why don’t you reject some culture and take on some Jesus for a change?
What if you deliberately prayed for the Lord to interrupt your life this Christmas? What if he did and that fight you have been having was no longer necessary? What if that anger you have been carrying was no longer so present or needed? What if that despair over the world and where its heading was no longer so deep and there was a quiet confidence returning – a hope in Him, not sport, politics, music, art or anything else to be a saviour.
IT IS WORTH IT
It is worth making room because you never know when God is sending someone to you to announce hope, speak hope into being and give new identity, new purpose in your step; new life in your veins. It could be me. It could be someone here or far away. It could be sworn enemy or a stranger.
The Inn keeper’s mum was right. “You always make room”. It is worth it.
Share about a moment when you found yourself saying, “if only I had known!”
We focused on the keeper of that inn at Bethlehem and his reflection on what it might have been like when he eventually discovered who it was that he had put in his cattle shed out the back. I asked, “Will we be saying “If only I had known” about his Advent And Christmas time?’ What might God be interrupting you about this Advent and Christmas? What might the Lord have on his mind about your life in him and our life as a local Lutheran church? Share your thoughts…..
The inn keeper’s mum always said “You have to make room because you never know who God is sending your way to show you something”. Do you agree with that? Why/Why not?
Read the text intentionally and carefully pausing to note particular things that you find yourself imagining about. Note them and share them when you are finished the reading.
Did you notice that the thing that all the nations will receive when they go up to Zion in the Lord’s presence is his teaching/instruction. That is the precious thing on offer here in this grand vision. The living instruction of God on life, relationships, work, rest, church, business, health and etc…. That is the gold of God’s presence, not money or fame or fortune or power…. think about how much instruction you have received as a result of being in the Lord’s presence with his people week-in, week-out. Share your thoughts on the value of God’s teaching and how he has helped you learn so much……
If you could ask a bible scholar one question about that text, what would you ask?
How do you make room for Jesus in your life in these weeks leading up to Christmas?
I asked, “Why don’t you reject some culture and take on some Jesus for a change?”. What would that mean for you if you sis this?
O come, O come Emmanuel. We rejoice at your presence in our live and ask you to go ahead and interrupt us so that we come to you and receive your teaching so we may be more complete and mature disciples.