This is the second week of our Advent series entitled “walk in the light.” We read much about the Lord being the Light of the World that we must be in light and not darkness. So it seems like a good time to prepare ourselves for the annual time of preparing, Advent, to look at the light and how we can walk in the light always. Over these four weeks of Advent we will look at the weekend readings and pull out some key themes that will help us ready ourselves for the coming of the Lord, and walking in the light.
Advent is a time of preparation, it is the four weeks leading up to the Nativity event; Christmas. Although the Nativity took place over two-thousand years ago, we relive the time today so we can understand better the meaning of Jesus coming as a child. Advent also has us thinking about the Second coming, when Christ will come again and judge us for eternal glory or destruction, depending upon how we live our lives. This preparing allows us to pause and think about how we are living and if we should make any changes that will help us live life better as a follower of Jesus.
It is a busy season, Christmas has turned into a time for children and gifts and telling loved ones how much we love them. It is also is a time that creates lots of tension to buy the perfect gift, have the perfect party, help those who are in need. We put more pressure on ourselves than usual at this time of year, so it is a good time to find moments to pause and reflect on who we are and whose we are.
In the readings last week we looked at conducting ourselves properly. Paul challenged us to be ready and to not fall victim to the desires of the flesh but to live for something more than ourselves. In the first reading from Isaiah we were told of a world where there is peace, not war, all will be obedient to the desires of God, and ready to walk in the light. In the gospel we read Jesus preaching about a coming that is of an unknown time and so we should be prepared. If we knew the time we would be prepared, don’t let this unknowing allow us to be caught off guard. To walk in the light we must be ready and we must conduct ourselves properly.
The readings this week lead us to a message that we are to be in harmony with one another. The reading from Isaiah declares one is coming who will bring harmony and a life of peace, serenity, and a Kingdom for all. Paul speaking to the Romans echoes this message of harmony; we should encourage one another and endure with one another. In the Gospel we hear John the Baptist telling us what happens when we don’t’ change, when we don’t live in harmony and follow the message of Jesus. It is in harmony that we need to live with one another, and if we are able we will walk in the Light of the Lord.
The readings this week for most ritual churches are from the Lectionary for the Second Sunday of Advent; Isaiah 11:1-10; Psalms 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17; Romans 15:4-9; Matthew 3:1-12. The readings guide us to understand we should live in harmony with one another. We are meant to be one Body of Christ, welcoming, loving, caring for one another. If we are in harmony we can walk in the Light of the Lord.
The reading from the prophet Isaiah is one of several seen as an Emmanuel oracle. It announces that a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse (King David’s father) at some future date. The second part of the oracle describes the things associated with the reign of this Emmanuel, it uses imagery that invokes a messianic peace, creation restored to its original state of justice. At the time the people would see this prophecy fulfilled in King David who ushered in a great period in the life of the Hebrew people, where there was peace, growth and harmony. Today we look back and see a second purpose for this pronouncement; a new King further down the family tree from King David, to Jesus, the Messiah, who wants to usher in the Kingdom of God which will reinstate the original garden life of beauty and love, peace, serenity and a spirit of harmony among all. It is a wonderful prophecy that males available the spirit, along with the spirit’s gifts; wisdom, understanding, counsel, strength (fortitude), knowledge, fear (which later is split into two gifts; piety and fear of the Lord). With the gifts received from the Spirit of the Lord there can be a harmony of people, a Kingdom where all work together and build up God’s Kingdom. It is in this harmony with one another that we are able to see the original intention of God’s creation, before pride and greed entered through a sinful nature. It is the creation of this Kingdom in which we all work together that is the new heaven and the new earth. It began with King David, Jesus works to bring it further along, telling more people and creating disciples to continue his telling, finally it is up to us to fulfill the promises of this harmony.It is in this harmony with one another that we are able to see the original intention of God’s creation, before pride and greed entered through a sinful nature. Click To Tweet
The second reading, Paul is writing to the community at Rome, encouraging them to continue, to endure and to be encouraged no matter how things look at the moment. He wants them to see God’s endurance and encouragement as a reason for harmony, to be with one another, to depend on one another to build God’s Kingdom together. Paul says with one voice and one accord we should glorify God. Not as a bunch of individuals crying out God’s glory but as one community, together, in harmony with one another so that when people see this harmonious following of Jesus, the seeing alone will be a beautiful song about the Kingdom of God. Others will see our love and want to be part of this new Kingdom. Paul goes on to make a case that this new Kingdom is not just for the Jews but for all people. Jesus came to establish harmony so that all people will live in the glory of God.He wants them to see God’s endurance and encouragement as a reason for harmony, to be with one another, to depend on one another to build God’s Kingdom together. Click To Tweet
In the gospel from Matthew we see a vignette from John the Baptist, the one who is calling out the coming of the Kingdom of God. John is announcing Jesus. Many are listening to him but many are also coming to find ways to undermine him because he is attracting too many followers. John lays out the expectations for those who do not get in harmony with the message of God, who don’t do the work of the Spirit. John explains there will be separation and destruction for those who do not change how they live, do not come to trusting in the message. John isn’t expecting lip service to any message he says the people will be known by their fruit. If they produce good fruit they are going to be members of the Kingdom of God. But if their fruit is not good, they will be treated unredeemable, and thrown into the fire. The decision is always up to those whose life is effected by the decision. John’s message is harsh, but sometimes it take a harsh message to get the attention of certain people. John announces Jesus and then fades into history, it is now the message of Jesus to love one another, love God and care for one each other that is meant to take center stage. A message that calls all people to work together, live together, care for one another and make others more important then ourselves.John announces Jesus and then fades into history, it is now the message of Jesus to love one another, love God and care for one each other that is meant to take center stage. Click To Tweet
The Kingdom of God, is lived out in Jesus, the only human who lived in a manner that God wants all humans to live. He was a person of peace, putting others first, giving his life for the growth and survival of others. This is the harmony that Jesus expects from us. This is the harmony we should create together that ushers in the Kingdom of God as Jesus witnesses too and shares the message about. When the Kingdom of God is here we will all want to live with one another, in harmony, and love.
It is this message of harmony with one another that put the Light of the Lord upon us. We all walk in the same steps, all have a common vision of the Kingdom of God and all rejoice and glorify God. Individually the message of Jesus is wonderful but it is intended as a corporate message. We are to form a group of followers, who do good together and when the group isn’t doing well together, it is sin.
As individuals we are called the greatest creation and we are, but we are great corporately even more. Coming together to form the Kingdom of God as Jesus laid out, is a plan that is going to finally bring the light of the Lord upon us. The Lord’s light is not intended for spots of individuals but for the entire family of people, we are to walk in the light of the Lord and it will be so big, shinning on all of us, it will be a light that cannot be ignored. We must do our part individually, but overall we must be in harmony with one another to allow the light to reflect the Son and be a source of light greater than any the world has ever seen.The Lord’s light is not intended for spots of individuals but for the entire family of people, we are to walk in the light of the Lord and it will be so big, shinning on all of us, it will be a light that cannot be ignored. Click To Tweet
Walk in the Light – harmony with one another
Jesus taught his disciples to pray for the Kingdom of God to come “here,” not for us to go there. The message of Jesus is primary about getting us into a place which will be heaven. What that means to us can be complicated but in a few words it should be a place with serenity, peace, a place we have a lack of pride (especially since it seems to be pride that broke the first people out of the garden God built special for them) and it should be a place where we all get along, we are in harmony with one another.
Getting along could be as simple as letting others go first, sharing what we have so they have enough, telling others how special they are and that we are glad to be with them, letting others know we love them as God loves us. Harmony used by Paul in the second reading is all these things. Living in harmony will make wherever we are heaven, the thing Jesus has us praying will come here on earth. (See Matthew 6:10) We make a mistake thinking that some future event will happen and turn everything into heaven. Heaven is what we will make, if we grasp Jesus prayer and message. Without us making heaven it could never be heaven.We make a mistake thinking that some future event will happen and turn everything into heaven. Heaven is what we will make, if we grasp Jesus prayer and message. Without us making heaven it could never be heaven. Click To Tweet
What is the distance or difference of the Kingdom of God “here” and “here” currently? If we could write a simple description of “here” today, we could say it is a kind of me-first, live independent, while loosely being in a country group, connected to a church group. The “here” we are praying to come is a place everyone helps everyone and we love each other. We care about all life, and want everyone to live. We care about where we live and want our home to survive so that all people can live here indefinitely. “Here” is a place without violence or fighting and so all weapons are beat into plowshares or pruning hooks, no weapon is raised again. “Here’ has no poor because all is shared with all. “Here” there are no refugees because we welcome all and call the entire Kingdom home for all. “Here” there are no immigrants as we are all brother and sister. “Here” there is no hating members of different tribes, or skin tones, or languages spoken, or Religions practiced, all people are loved as brother and sister connected to the vine. “Here” prisons may go away as all is shared with all, therefore we have no need to act selfishly, stealing, killing or usurping for our individual needs or desires.If we could write a simple description of “here” today, we could say it is a kind of me-first, live independent, while loosely being in a country group, connected to a church group. Click To Tweet
Jesus said that “here” would be a place where he wants us to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, cloth the naked, friend the stranger, assist the ill, befriend the prisoner. The Kingdom of God is a place where all these things happen for everyone, not just a little for some people. Today it seems some of us give a small percentage of our personal wealth to help some small percentage of persons with needs. If we want to walk in the light of the Lord it means we all have to do all these things for all in need all the time.If we want to walk in the light of the Lord it means we all have to do all these things for all in need all the time. Click To Tweet
But asking this is too big for individuals. We need to band together and act in harmony to address all these needs Jesus foresaw for all people. In Paul’s analogy of the Body, if one part of the Body suffers the entire Body is suffering. As a part of the Body we cannot see an immigrant and think, their need it not my need. If they suffer we suffer. At the same time we as individuals cannot handle all the needs of every immigrant. When we don’t help as the Body, it is a sin (sin is corporate.) When we can’t help as an individual it is understandable. Walking in the light is not about being an individual but being the Body of Christ.Walking in the light is not about being an individual but being the Body of Christ. Click To Tweet
Politically speaking walking in the light means we don’t stop caring about people at the border of our country. Borders might be fine for a US citizen but as a citizen of the Kingdom of God there is no place a person can be from and could be a person we don’t have to care for and love. It would almost seem that country interests are by definition anti-Christ interest. Of course we need systems, boundaries and judgements to allow groups of people to operate living within in a particular locale. But as Paul teaches about law, it is only the training wheels, the real message is love and caring for all. Law and country rules are about information, not transformation. If we care more about our country than the message of Christ then we will never get the training wheels off and will never see the Kingdom of God, “here.” We might as well keep hoping for some future God event that ends the world and see how things turn out.If we care more about our country than the message of Christ then we will never get the training wheels off and will never see the Kingdom of God, “here.” Click To Tweet
We started pretty good. Jesus’ coming and message formed communities that cared about one another, they pooled their money and resources and made sure all ate, all had a place to lay their head, all belonged and knew they were loved. Slaves were still slaves but had a place where they were equal as well. The communities formed had all people all the time, living and creating the beginning of the Kingdom of God. Their light did shine and others looked at the light and said I want what they have, I want to be part of their community.The communities formed had all people all the time, living and creating the beginning of the Kingdom of God. Their light did shine and others looked at the light and said I want what they have, I want to be part of their community. Click To Tweet
These communities grew and multiplied. These communities became loosely united under similar beliefs and lifestyles. The communities remained mixed in cultures that had more influence on the members than the community itself. So rather than have communities that lived, worked, ate and shared together, individuals centered on the family remained the core group. Outside influences convinced people it was easy to take care of themselves than to look after the entire community. The families still visited the community, they shared bread and stayed loosely united as a community.
But people in the community stopped looking different from the people outside the community and so rather than participating in the message Jesus lived and shared, people started listening and accepting it in their hearts without doing what the message said to do. Today these communities are called churches, they are places we go to one or more times a week, living even less united than ever. The communities formed had all people all the time, living and creating the beginning of the Kingdom of God. Their light did shine and others looked at the light and said I want what they have, I want to be part of their community.The communities formed had all people all the time, living and creating the beginning of the Kingdom of God. Their light did shine and others looked at the light and said I want what they have, I want to be part of their community. Click To Tweet
Today’s churches, can’t meet the need of feeding all the hungry, clothing all the naked, sharing drink with all the thirsty, helping all the ill, befriending all the prisoners. There are too many with needs and too few in the churches to help and so we don’t believe we can help all and so we aren’t helping all. Yes, we do some of what we can; but jail populations are growing which indicates people are not being helped, poverty grows, immigrant problems are growing, wars are a constant threat, death from violence is increasing, and hatred for people not like us is on the rise. We are moving further and further away from a “here” where the Light of the Lord shines so brightly people have hope, and a desire to join churches, or be disciples, as people did in those early communities. We can pray for the Kingdom of God here but without doing more we shouldn’t expect the Kingdom of God here.We are moving further and further away from a “here” where the Light of the Lord shines so brightly people have hope, and a desire to join churches, or be disciples as people did in those early communities. Click To Tweet
It is as Paul said, when one part of the Body suffers, all parts of the Body suffer. If we don’t live as Jesus asked, and aren’t doing what Jesus asked us to do, the Light of the Lord does not shine here, the Kingdom of God will not come here and so we, who think we are fine, won’t have the Kingdom of God available to us. No Kingdom of God for some is Kingdom of God for none.No Kingdom of God for some is Kingdom of God for none. Click To Tweet
When we don’t band together and help others, we are hurting ourselves. The Kingdom of God is a place where we want to be, to live, to be in harmony. When we don’t create one Body of Christ, living as Jesus suggested, helping, loving, befriending, welcoming, and healing we just get more prisons, more wars, more hunger, more poverty, more hate, more enemies, more naked and thirsty people, till we reach a tipping point and those in need will be more than those who can’t possibly help. We will very likely become one of the people who is in need and no longer able to help the needy.When we don’t create one Body of Christ, living as Jesus suggested, helping, loving, befriending, welcoming, and healing we just get more prisons, more wars, more hunger, more poverty, more hate, more enemies, more naked and thirsty… Click To Tweet
Walk in the light
This message of harmony, is not about pockets of communities who have a similar mission statement, and vision. To be in harmony means we all are one in the Body of Christ, and we give all we have to create the Kingdom of God. It is when we care corporately, all for all, that we are walking in the light of the Lord. As individuals, or small groups, it is not possible. But if we ask God for help, if we are open to the idea that we would do all for all, if we recognize we are not living the message of Christ today, then we might be able to turn it around, or as John the Baptist likes to say we might be ready to repent.It is when we care corporately, all for all, that we are walking in the light of the Lord. As individuals, or small groups, it is not possible. Click To Tweet
To be in harmony with one another means we can walk in the light, we can be ready for the coming of the Son of Man, and in fact helps us live a life that is blessed, which means fortunate or happy. Jesus is the one who wants us to be blessed, Jesus is the light that shines and shows us the way to be blessed. We should consider rethinking our Christian implements today and find a way for all to come together as one Body, conducting ourselves like the first communities, caring for each other, forming loving relationships, caring more about the other than our self, and then the Light will shine from us as we walk.We should consider rethinking our Christian implements today and find a way for all to come together as one Body, conducting ourselves like the first communities, caring for each other, forming loving relationships, caring more about… Click To Tweet