First Sunday of Advent, Light the candle of Hope.
Isaiah 60:1-5 ; 18-22
1 “Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.
2 See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the LORD rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
3 Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
4 “Lift up your eyes and look about you:
All assemble and come to you;
your sons come from afar,
and your daughters are carried on the hip.
5 Then you will look and be radiant,
your heart will throb and swell with joy;
the wealth on the seas will be brought to you,
to you the riches of the nations will come.
18 No longer will violence be heard in your land,
nor ruin or destruction within your borders,
but you will call your walls Salvation
and your gates Praise.
19 The sun will no more be your light by day,
nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you,
for the LORD will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory.
20 Your sun will never set again,
and your moon will wane no more;
the LORD will be your everlasting light,
and your days of sorrow will end.
21 Then all your people will be righteous
and they will possess the land forever.
They are the shoot I have planted,
the work of my hands,
for the display of my splendor.
22 The least of you will become a thousand,
the smallest a mighty nation.
I am the LORD;
in its time I will do this swiftly.”
Our Advent series is all about The Light. The Promise of the Light, the Coming of the Light, and on Christmas, the Embrace of the Light. The Light of course is the Light of the World, Jesus Christ. The Advent season is traditionally a time of anticipation, expectancy as we wait for the birth of Jesus. The 4 Sundays of Advent, we light candles symbolizing Hope, Love, Joy and Peace.
Now in our time the catch words of this season seem to be shopping, wrapping, decorating, cooking, cleaning, -not much peace there! Maybe that's why we come to church!!
Prophet Isaiah..began to prophecy about 740 years before the time of Jesus.
His writings are very poetic, with beautiful imagery, showing how all of creation, all of nature, will be in harmony when God's kingdom reigns supreme. The early parts of Isaiah predict of the fall of various kingdoms, but from chapter 40 on are words of comfort, and predictions of the messiah and the beauty and peace-shalom, that will accompany the reign of God. Isaiah's message is all about the Grace of God, salvation coming through God, not because of anything we people have done or can do!
Let's look at the imagery in this passage...light, glory, radiance, splendor...
does v. 19 seem familiar? It is used in the Revelation..the description, of heaven, the new Jerusalem...Rev 21: 23And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
Light and dark are images used all through the Bible...1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.
Light and dark....scientific defintion of darkness is absence of light...light has physical properties, it is made up of photons, travels at 186,000 miles per second...darkness does not have properties of its own, it is purely an absence, doing without, emptiness...of light.
Through this advent series, as we talk about Light, the Promise of the Light, the coming of the Light, and embracing the light, we are talking about Jesus, the Light of the World. In an epistle of John, “God is Light, in him there is no darkness whatsoever.” so when the Bible talks of light, it means God, and darkness is being without God, separation from God.
our world seems to have an awful lot of darkness, doesn't it?!
NT lesson John 1:9-13
John 1: 9-13
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
John is of course writing about Jesus Christ. The True light...that gives light, meaning, to bring understanding, to everyone.
Jesus was not received, or accepted, by everyone in His own time, or even now 2000 years later!
And yet, God promises that we who do receive Christ, who believe, become children of God. What a lovely promise that is!!
The Bible is full of promises of God, promises of Light, that we shall be children of God, Faithful promises of everlasting life, forgiveness, comfort, of Love, Joy, Peace and Hope!
The Hope of Advent comes from the promises of God. As author Richard Foster writes:
The Bible does not simply tell us of the presence of God; it shows us the active presence of God deeply and permanently embedded in all the smells, tastes, touches, sights, and sounds of human life. Over and over, this reality is played out in stories, poems, carefully preserved histories, records of cultural systems, details of prophetic revelations, speeches, letters, songs and prayers. The Scripture weaves the involvement of God through the intimacies of birth and death, lovemaking and betrayal, weddings and funerals, warring and peacemaking, wealth and poverty, hunger and thirst, tears and laughter. Across thousands of years with wave upon wave of names and faces and recurring events, the Bible threads God's patient words of love and faithfulness: I am with you.
–Richard Foster, Life With God
God created the heavens and the earth, and then created humans, God promised to be with us. God is so interested in a personal relationship, that God sent a son...to be born to a woman, a virgin as promised in Scripture, raised in an ordinary family, to live with ordinary people, and to die an extraordinary death...just because God so loved the world. 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
The ultimate promise is the Light of the World, our Lord and Savior. Let the Light of Jesus shine in you as you go through this Advent season.