The season of Advent.
Advent means coming and this season exhorts us to think deeply about the coming of God to us..
Did you know that God is not distant; nor is he indifferent to our troubles..
He has come to us in the past - Christmas, the child in the manger.
He does come to us in the present - he meets with us by his Spirit
And he will come to us again in the future - the promised second coming of Christ to judge the world and restore all things.
The advent of God.
In our passage today, 700 years before the first Christmas - the prophet Micah predicts that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem. That this child would be a King who’s greatness and peace will one day fill the earth. And so Micah’s great Advent theme is HOPE. I wonder how is your hope? Your hope for the world, for your family, for yourself. Sometimes in our frailty we can feel hopeless. But Micah says to us God is coming - in your weakness be people of hope. Read More
Last week Greta, my daughter, said La La Land had arrived on Netflix so Saturday evening we watched it. Her for about the 6th time. If you haven’t seen it – I’ll try not to spoil it.
I was struck by how a song in the middle of the film summed up a lot of what was going on. It’s when Mia is auditioning and they say – tell us a story. She talks/sings about her aunt in Paris and how she got her into acting. The chorus is:
Here's to the ones who dream
Foolish as they may seem
Here's to the hearts that ache
Here's to the mess we make
I thought that summed up a lot of the film because it’s all about two people’s dreams. Their hopes and ambitions – to be a film star, run a jazz club. And you see how those dreams – drive them in life. Lead them to do rubbish jobs, make certain decisions about relationships.
I think – those dreams drive them too much and other things get sacrificed. But you get a clear picture of dreams driving life.
I mention that because this passage talks about the future – thinking of advent and God coming – and that raises questions of what we are looking forward to – hoping for – dreaming of.
Or more – if we’re Christians or were to become Christian – what does God say about the future - what should we dream of? Read More
For all our great advances in wealth and technology we find it more difficult than ever to find peace.
Peace eludes us. This Christmas the conflicts in the very nations where Isaiah sees peace: Israel, Iraq, Syria… they continue to degenerate into an inhuman brutality.
Brexit and the US elections have exposed deep divides and growing intolerance in western societies. Families and relationships wilt under the pressure.
And our own hearts are mostly restless.
But Isaiah looks and he sees… PEACE breaking upon his nation. Breaking out over what we now call the middle east. Darkness and oppression and the shadow of death give way to dawning light, freedom and rejoicing. Isaiah sees the end of war. Enduring peace.
And why? how?
v6…For to us a child is born, to us a son is given and the government will be on his shoulders… of the increase of his government and PEACE there will be no end.. Read More
I think today it’s probably true to say that as a culture we do quite a lot of wanting – and not much waiting. There are some things we wait for - there’s the holiday we’ve booked that we’re looking forward to – maybe we buy a flat and can’t wait to move in – there’s sometimes of ‘I can’t wait’ waiting.
Yet there’s quite a lot of I want – a better job, fulfilling relationship, more money – but there’s little chance it’s going to happen. It’s not wrong – we might want very good things. But it’s a can’t have/probably won’t get sort of wanting.
Well Peter here says that Christians – those who trust in Jesus if that’s us tonight – are people or should be people – who are dominated by waiting - filled with a can’t wait – sort of waiting. And actually being filled with that sort of waiting will change our wanting.
In particular - we are waiting for what Peter calls righteousness.... Read More
My earliest, perhaps most vivid childhood memory involves the excitement of receiving an advent calendar aged around three – and not being able to bear the anticipation, opening each and every door on 1st December - counting down to Christmas – and then deep disappointment that I hadn’t brought the big day any closer.
A new appreciation of the advent season as an adult – not least because I’m now responsible for the practical preparations – card-writing, present-wrapping, tree-decorating, food shopping, bed-making… sermon-writing…
But more so, that this is a season of interior preparation for the coming Saviour – so that when Christmas actually arrives, we can sing that wonderful line from ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ with heartfelt gusto: Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today. Read More