Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Advent 1 mid-week

Introduction: Joseph and Mary traveled from the town of Nazareth to Bethlehem. They did not begin their journey the day before Christmas. They started early enough that the child Jesus was born in Bethlehem according to the prophecy. During the season of Advent, we are on the road to Bethlehem for the birth of the Christ child. Will we get there in time for the Christ to be born anew in our hearts? It depends on the road we travel and the kind of road that it is. John the Baptist was sent to urge us to build a road on which Christ would come. The prophet Isaiah prescribes the kind of road we need to build. Let's consider the road that leads to Bethlehem…

{1} The road that leads to Bethlehem is a straight road of righteousness. Listen to verse 3 of Isaiah's prophecy. "…make straight in the desert a highway for our God."
As we prepare to meet Christ in this season of Advent, we need this straight road. We need a road that leads to righteousness. Isaiah tells us that a highway for God was to be built in the in the wilderness and desert. God promised to come to His people in the wilderness. That is because that is where people are - in the wilderness of sin and in the desert of spiritual darkness. For forty years, the Israelites were in the wilderness with God. The place where God made a covenant with them. To be with God and to communicate with Him, we need to get away from the affluence and opulence, from the distractions of the world and from the busyness of daily concerns. It is in the wilderness where we meet God.

{2} The road that leads to Bethlehem is a level road of humility. Listen to verse 4 of Isaiah's prophecy. "Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low and the "crooked shall be made straight…"
Isaiah asks the people to find God. In their captivity they had been looking at themselves and their plight. Now they are to life their heads and look at God who comes in humility and meekness. In this Advent season we too are to seek after the same God who comes to us in humility. Isaiah asks
us to look to the God who has a mighty are to deliver. He asks us to look at the God who can still be a tender and gentle shepherd who seeks to rescue lost and injured sheep. There is hope and comfort for us in this Advent season for there is hope and comfort found in the Savior who came to us in meekness and humility to be our only Savior.

{3} The road that leads to Bethlehem is a smooth road of graciousness. Listen again to the final words of verse 4. "…and the rough places plain."
When this prophecy was written the people were in the darkness of exile in Babylon. They were captive in a foreign land. They needed a gracious Savior who would lift them out of their despondency and depression. Does the comfort Isaiah speak of merely mean "sympathy"? It is more than that. Isaiah tells us that "with strength" God will come to save us. God will comfort His people by giving strength to deliver them out of their troubles. In being a gracious God he makes our rough road smooth, as He steers us clear of those obstacles that are "in our road". As He does this in our life then we truly are comforted. Then we truly find a God who is able to save us.

Conclusion: Isaiah begins his prophecy with these words "Comfort ye, Comfort ye my people" By these words he implies that there is comfort needed in the lives of people back then and in the lives of people living in Decatur, Indiana in the year of our Lord 2010. Behind these words, there is a state of sorrow and distress. The words of this ancient prophecy, written 800 years before Jesus was even born, speaks to us this day. In Christ you will find comfort, as He gives you rest for your souls, as you find your strength in Him. On the road that you travel may He direct and keep you, as He descends upon you to give you His peace. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Schnorr Von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use

No comments: