Bellbrook Presbyterian Church

72 West Franklin St., Bellbrook, OH 45305

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The Spirit of the Lord

Posted on 12/11/2016 by SuperUser Account

Good morning. Grace and peace to you.

Our reading from Isaiah today is from the third section of Isaiah during the time of the Israelites returning from exile back their home. And when they get there their former home is a sad site. The City walls of Jerusalem are crumbled and on the ground. This City that served as their center of faith and life is in ruins. And they return, overwhelmed and sad, but with the hopes of rebuilding again.

But rebuilding is hard.  Especially rebuilding something that is so near and dear to us.  Sometimes it seems impossible.  One year we were decorating our Christmas tree and somehow this ornament that I had made with a neighbor many, many, years before - - a ceramic gingerbread cut-out glazed sky blue and fired in a kiln; somehow, that got broken.  I remember looking at the broken pieces and wondering if it could be glued, if it could be restored, but I knew that it couldn’t.  It was hard to put that into the trash.  It was pretty and a fond memory and now broken.  Sometimes those very small losses make us morn.  How much more so, then a City, deeply loved, crumbled before the eyes of Isaiah’s people.  Not everything can be fixed.  We know that.  But our deepest hurts and mourning’s can be healed because we are children of a loving God who promises to always be with us.  And that God comes to the Israelite people and brings good news to them.

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news

Isaiah and God recognize the despair that is heavy among the people.  They recognize the depth of the hurt and the loss.  And the Spirit of the Lord comes upon Isaiah and fills him with these beautiful words of Good News - - good news for the oppressed and broken hearted.  For the captives.  The prisoners.  The mourners.  Good news has come.  God, through Isaiah pours out beautiful words about the sign of their restoration, their rescue, and their hope - - to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.

Things may be broken now, but healing and restoration will come.  For the Spirit of the Lord is present and active and working, bringing joy and raising up the everlasting covenant between the people and God.

* * * *

Advent is this very unique time of the year.  It is a time where we are sort of in between the place where everything that feels overwhelming, and the place of fulfillment of the Covenant that God promises in Jesus Christ.  It is a time of hymns that sound lonely and even eerie at times, and a time when we begin to sing some of the Christmas favorites that we love so much.  It is a time of purple moving into white and green and red. 

Advent gives us time to think about those places and stations in our lives where we feel overwhelmed, where things are broken, where we are not sure there can be a fix, like the ornament I put in the garbage.  Those times are important to recognize and walk through, as is exiting those times on the other side into the glory and good news and mercy of Almighty God.

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news

And today we recognize those times of hardship, thinking of the Israelites in their utter despair, thinking of the things I our lives that are overwhelming or unresolved.  But we don’t stop there.  Because God doesn’t leave us in despair or brokenness but seeks for us complete healing and restoration, by the good news God gives to us in Christ Jesus.  And we celebrate that good news today with a special Advent Sunday.

Today is Joy Sunday.  The third Sunday of Advent.  We light the pink candle of joy to mark our worship and have the opportunity to spend this worship morning seeking out the complete kind of Joy that is found in God.  Today is an extra special day of joy.  What a privilege and honor to celebrate Harry’s 85th Birthday with him and with his family.  What a day of joy.

This community of faith and all that is God filled and wonderful about it, Harry, Pat, their family, everyone who is part of this faith community, the beautiful building, the windows, the decorations, right down to the pink candle - - it all reflects and proclaims joy.  Amazing Joy.  God’s Joy.  Good news to all the earth.

As we think about all of the goodness of this community, about all of the goodness in Isaiah’s words, about Advent, and Joy sometimes I feel like we have to take extra time to think about what to do with all of that.  We don’t want to let the season pass with our being unchanged, but this Joy Sunday want to receive that Good News that comes from God through Isaiah sent to us by Almighty God.

One thing is to capture it and embrace it.  Someone shared a story with me a little over a week ago about how her grandchildren came over to see their festively decorated home, and one of the children entered in the front door, took in the holiday decorations and squealed with delight at all of the beautiful ornaments.  “BALLS!” he yelled with glee at all of the round objects covering the Christmas tree.  That is joy.  That is the kind of joy that God seeks to give us even during the points I time when our road is hard and life seems overwhelming.  A joy that fills us with delight so much so that we can’t keep quiet but must yell about it to the rest of the world.  That is the joy of Advent.

And then we don’t hold on to it.  Joy is kind of like a lightening bug.  It doesn’t do well in a jar under a lid.  It reflects its fullness much more when it is out in the world.  And so as we are filled with joy, we also send it out.

Someone else I this congregation shared a different story with me about sharing that joy.  She was in Dots and ran into a man and his wife in the store.  The man was struggling because he had recently had a stroke and things were just not working as he hoped and remembered them to be.  One of you from this church took time to talk with him.  And even gave him a hug.  Spreading the good news, the Joy, the Everlasting Covenant of almighty God.

Today, know that no matter what you face, even the crumbled walls of an entire City, nothing is beyond the power of Almighty God.  Those days when work stress is overwhelming, when bodies are aching with sore backs, when the world just doesn’t seem right.  You are not alone.

And as you receive the joy, may you carry it out.  In word and in deed.  Spilling over with Christmas joy.  Caring for a stranger in the grocery store.  And sharing the love of Almighty God.

The spirit of the Lord God is upon you.  God seeks to fill you with joy so great that you cannot contain it, that struggles fade, and hope is renewed.  And the Lord has anointed you; he has sent you to bring good news.

May our world know the Joy of Jesus Christ this Advent Day.

All Glory Be To You O Lord.  Amen.

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