FINDING HOME FOR CHRISTMAS: DISTANCE
Happy Thanksgiving! As we prepare for the day of Thanksgiving, it is our hope that you will sense what God has done for you. Gratitude is powerful for all of us because it is a recognition that we are people of grace. By grace we have been saved, not by our own energy or effort. Because of grace we do not get what we deserve! We pray that you will have a blessed day and that you will be a blessing to others! This Sunday we begin a new sermon series, Finding Home for Christmas. It may seem like an odd title but all of humanity is lost and we, like sheep, have gone astray! This week’s sermon is Distance, we have wandered far from home. We see this in the brokenness of our world, in the violence in our streets, and the condition of our hearts. God is perfect in holiness, but we are always imperfect and struggle for wholeness. We can never fix the relationship between ourselves and God, but God can. Christmas is the grand event of God fulfilling his Word to Israel and to all of humanity by closing the distance between ourselves and God. It is the reality that the light has come into the world and the darkness cannot extinguish it! This is the light that can lead us to our true spiritual home. We begin this journey to Christmas with Isaiah 49:6-16. These words are partly to Isaiah and confirm his calling, but they also speak to a much deeper and enduring reality. Isaiah is the “tip of the spear” that pierces the darkness of Israel’s fallacy and failure with the light of God’s mission and purpose! God wants to bring his people home and restore them so that the light of his presence will shine for everyone! They could not fully understand the light that would be born in Bethlehem to Mary and Joseph, but it is a fulfillment of God’s promise to Isaiah and Israel to be a light to all of the world! These words remain a beacon to help us find our true spiritual home, so that we will not be lost in the darkness! Our determined and earnest prayer is that you will see this beacon of hope and that you will seek to walk in its light rather than wander in the darkness! Come to the light of Bethlehem as you read Isaiah 49:6-16:
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” 7 This is what the LORD says– the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel– to him who was despised and abhorred by the nation, to the servant of rulers: “Kings will see you and stand up, princes will see and bow down, because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.” 8 This is what the LORD says: “In the time of my favor I will answer you, and in the day of salvation I will help you; I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people, to restore the land and to reassign its desolate inheritances, 9 to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!'” They will feed beside the roads and find pasture on every barren hill. 10 They will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the desert heat or the sun beat down on them. He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water. 11 I will turn all my mountains into roads, and my highways will be raised up. 12 See, they will come from afar– some from the north, some from the west, some from the region of Aswan. ” 13 Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. 14 But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.” 15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! 16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.