Sunday, December 21, 2014

Season of Comfort - 2 Peter 3.8-15, Isaiah 40.1-5

Sometimes, it’s difficult to remember that it’s now the Christmas Season. Sure there are reminders that it is, with all the sales ads that we can see on TV or read in our email boxes. And the decorations help, too. Yet if it weren’t for these, would we know that it is this season?

A few blocks over from Madison Square Gardens, during the lighting of the tree, there was an officer involved shooting and a teen is dead. Of course, we can’t forget what has happened in St. Louis. That has been in the headlines too often. Not to mention all of the other unrest there seems to be. Amazingly, I didn’t see any trampling at a “Black Friday” sales event this year. But those are the economic woes, a lackluster year by some counts and others are still counting to see if it can be spun differently.

And God’s children wonder, “how long, O Lord, before our rest, before your return?”  But times, they really aren’t any different from when the prophet spoke. A nation of God’s children were also having their woes. Isaiah was a prophet at the end of Israel and Judah as nations. Their leaders lead the people further away from God’s will, including the desecration of the Temple to appease the king of Assyria.

The God, the Almighty, our Heavenly Father gave him the words to record that we now know as the book of Isaiah. In it, the good news is revealed that God will send His Messiah to deliver all nations from the hopelessness of the times. He was to be one to remove our sins and our bent to sinning. He is our comfort, our salvation, and we know him as Jesus.

The world does, too, know him. Yet especially now, they only see a baby in a manger. Oh as a parent how I wish I could freeze time with my children as they continue to grow. Yet they are growing. As of Wednesday past, I officially became the parent of two preteens. Wednesday coming, my preschooler turns 5. They are ever growing. And so did Jesus.

Jesus came as a gift for us, to clothe us in righteousness so that we could approach the Creator of the Universe and call Him, Daddy. To be that gift, he grew. He lived and died and rose from the dead having sacrificed himself. Then he left his message, the good news, in the hands of a few. From there, we are now here today, nearly 2,000 years later, asking once again, “How long, O Lord?”

This is where Peter’s words of encouragement come. Let’s read our passage.

One of the problems that we have today is that we’ve forgotten our encounter. We’ve forgotten the grace of our salvation that the world so needs to hear. Instead of Jesus being someone we strive to follow, going to church has become the weekly activity. And society continues to worsen.

The promise he gave to his disciples was that he was going to go away for a spell, to prepare a place for them, and for us. Then after a while, he would return. Yet when is that while? For how long? God’s timetable is unfathomable. For Him, a 1000 years is nothing.

Mind you, this isn’t dealing with the creation recorded in Genesis. This is dealing with Christ and His return for us. And that return can happen at any moment. Be it now or in another 1,000 years.

Christmas then becomes a time that has a sense of urgency to it. The time is a short one. Come January 1, we stop thinking about the person of Jesus and instead ridicule the neighbor who’s lights are still up and going.  So I see a double meaning for this time. We are closer to salvation

This is the time of opportunity. To share the Gospel.

“Comfort, comfort My people,” says your God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and announce to her that her time of forced labor is over, her iniquity has been pardoned, and she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

A voice of one crying out: Prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness; make a straight highway for our God in the desert. Every valley will be lifted up, and every mountain and hill will be leveled; the uneven ground will become smooth and the rough places, a plain. And the glory of the Lord will appear, and all humanity together will see it, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

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