What should be the target and strategy for the church?
Opening the Advent Calebdar
Advent the season of hope pointing to Jesus – following his ways.
It is a few days until we can start opening advent calendars but today marks the fourth Sunday before Christmas and so is known as the first Sunday in advent, the official start of the church season of advent.
Advent counts us down to the start of Christmas on the 25th December. Advent also gives us an opportunity to reflect on the first Christmas when Jesus came into the world as God with us to then bring us hope through his death and resurrection. We also, in the advent season look ahead to Jesus returning. To bring to completion all that God has promised.
I need a volunteer to reveal the first window of our calendar……..
Our verse for today from our Isaiah reading says ‘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.’
What does it mean to walk in Gods paths? That’s what we’re thinking about this Sunday and We’ll hear that verse again a bit later in our service and there’s another verse we’ll hear which says ‘come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!’
Reading from Isaiah 2:1-5
Target and strategy
I wonder how many dreamers we have in church today. Do you have a list of things you want to do, places you want to go, things you’ll like to see happen?
It’s all very well having a dream, something to target, to reach for but if we don’t make a plan, if we don’t act maybe we won’t get there.
Isaiah is given a dream by God a target to be reached. They lived in a time where there was lots of war and fighting amongst the nations and a time when God’s people were consistently turning their backs on God not worshipping him or following his commandments, they even turned to other gods. And God warns them that if they don’t change there will be punishment.
So here is Isaiah seeing a vision full of hope where in v2 God’s kingdom will be established as the kingdom. A place that people from all nations will stream to. Where their relationship with God will be restored – they’ll return to the temple – a symbol of returning to worship God – so that as v3 says ‘he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.’ And lastly in v4 that this kingdom is a kingdom of peace
And Isaiah says that this is achieved by following God’s ways, walking in the light of the Lord.
In the Old Testament that would have been about following the Ten Commandments and the scrolls of scripture that they had – the Torah . They were to worship God in the temple and learn about Him through the reading and teaching of scripture. It would be through these actions that they would see this vision of a restored Jerusalem come about.
History shows us that this was difficult to do and so God the son, Jesus, came to earth as man to model the way we should worship God and be obedient to all his commands and gave us his spirit to help us live God’s way of peace, love and hope.
Jesus said this is how we can follow God’s commandments – Love the Lord your God with all your heart all your soul all your mind all your strength and love your neighbour as yourself. This is how we can be walking in the light.
What does that mean for us to love God with our everything and to love our neighbour as ourself?
Do we make worshipping God our number 1?
Do we look for ways of loving our neighbour?
In this advent season we look to the same future as Isaiah – an eternal kingdom of peace. Even in the current circumstances whatever difficulties we might be facing we can trust in the certainty of God’s eternal kingdom.
Conclusion – So in this season of advent As we walk in the light of the Lord may we know His hope and bring that hope to others. As we love our neighbour as ourself. May we spend time reflecting on how we can walk more fully in the light. Our strategy may involve putting down unhelpful habits and picking up new ones. How can we help show others God’s eternal kingdom by being his people of love, hope and peace, worshipping God until he comes again and establishes his kingdom for ever. His kingdom of hope. So this advent season, as Isaiah said in v5, come let us walk in the light of the Lord.