Reawakening Jesus in Our World
ISAIAH 58: 6-12
JOHN 1: 9-14 & 18
Life is an ever changing journey for most of us. It’s filled with the unexpected but also with a sense of fulfilling the requirements that provide conformity in a setting we think we have little control over. The ADVENT journey, if we spend time wrapped up in our faith … if we contemplate our relationship with Jesus the Christ who is the Son of God … the Prince of Peace … Emmanuel GOD IS WITH US …. Messiah … Savior; OH I DO HOPE you know Him as SAVIOR … King of Kings … the BREAD of LIFE … well you have heard His names, the ADVENT journey provides people of faith with the opportunity to sense God’s love through Jesus. But friends, have you contemplated your relationship with Jesus the Christ in this Advent Season clearing once again the pathway to the reawakening of Jesus Christ in your lives and in our world just through the light of Christ that you can shine out there … in your world?
I have said it before … all of you know it … Jesus was born more than 2000 years ago. He is not about to be born in 2 weeks; right now we are not waiting for news reports of Mary’s sonograms … we are not wondering if Bethlehem is ready for this overly pregnant girl to deliver the Prince of Peace in that small corner of the world where the actions this week of one man have exponentially increased the risk of violence and death in a way that has not been seen in years for the men, women and children living and now dying within miles of the manger’s historic location marked as the Church of the Nativity since Justinian had it built in 565. There within walking distance of Manger Square more violence in an already tension filled world; deaths in the cities that our Jesus walked in; deaths that could easily have been prevented if … politically motivated disregard was not the way … oh GOD be with us. Immanuel Jesus … we need Your peace … we need to get on the road looking to the Star of God.
My friends … I ask in all sincerity this morning … have you thought about your personal relationship to Jesus the Christ this Advent season? Have you opened the Holy Book we refer to as the Bible to glean the treasures on living life that Jesus shared? Have you ever … have you ever connected the dots between you and Jesus; are you willing to consider where a solid connection might lead. Are you seeking a closer relationship with God or are you good keeping God a good arm’s length or more away because …
You see … this Advent season has me grieving as I watch the world pull further and further away from the call of Jesus. God sent the world Jesus … you heard the Scripture this morning Jesus, “the true light that gives light to every person … to all who received Him … to those who believe in His name … He gave the right to become the children of God.” But in the midst of his writing John adds this ominous FACT … not an ALT FACT … not what we call FAKE NEWS but truth “He came to that which was His own but His own did not receive Him.”
My friends … in this our world of the year 2017 it has become much clearer as to how many of rejected the Son of God … we don’t have to look to the mountains of Nepal or the deserts of the Middle East or the jungles of the Amazon … right here; right in our midst … even in this season where the calendar date DECEMBER 25th, just 14 shopping days left … of every person are marked as CHRISTMAS yet even with the possibilities of THE LIGHT of GOD being in this world … people of faith can easily see that the “true light that shines on all people” is being blocked by the shadow of a great darkness rooted in hate, greed, and dismissal of God’s people not reflective of the mirror gazer.
It is time … long overdue for a REAWAKENING of JESUS in OUR WORLD!!!! And, that reawakening cannot happen unless people like you and me contemplate what it means to live as a person who believes not in a baby forever captured in a manger setting but as the Son of God walking earth’s dusty streets teaching and proclaiming the Word of God … the directives of the Creator … the showcase of God’s grace, a love for ALL humanity because ALL humanity was made in God’s holy image not just those that some politically motivated television empowered preachers claim when they limit the Almighty by using their words to put down people they dislike, fear, or hate.
We need to be walking in THE LIGHT … we need to be catching the reflections of God’s intent for God’s people … WE need to be able to declare to our world that “We have seen the glory of Jesus the Christ like that of a Father’s only Son … full of grace and truth.”
But where does that put us … who are we supposed to be? Frankly, I frequently think about young Jesus opening the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah to read God’s Word publicly in his hometown synagogue … “The LORD God’s spirit is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me. He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim release for captives, and liberation for prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and a day of vindication for our God, to comfort all who mourn … Foreigners will stay and shepherd your sheep, and strangers will be your farmers and vinedressers. I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and dishonesty. I will faithfully give them their wage, and make with them an enduring covenant.”
The wrds of Jesus but also the words of the prophet … God’s Word made alive through Jesus … have you joined people of faith on the ADVENT ROAD to get closer to Jesus this year? Are you hearing the Scriptures … are you believing the Scriptures … are you advocating the Scriptures or are you slipping into the line of those willing to accept measures and positions that counter God’s directives? God’s totally clear not vague calls to God’s people.
I am truly saddened this ADVENT season by what I am witnessing … the brokenness of humanity on display … elected officials gleefully passing legislation countering Scripture … people arguing that a deviant of every social norm who has very publicly expressed hate and derision for many of God’s people should be placed in a position of power because his political vote counts more than the lesson for future generations about what is right and wrong.
Scripture is very clear on the responsibilities of people of faith … at the beginning of the chapter from Isaiah that was read today the Prophet writes, “SHOUT IT ALOUD, DO NOT HOLD BACK. Raise your voices like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion.” In Proverbs Solomon shares God’s intent, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Oh wait … God says that those who are poor and needy matter? A little earlier in the Scripture Jesus read to his hometown folks we hear that “Foreigners will stay and shepherd your sheep, and strangers will be your farmers and vinedressers.”
The poor … the needy …. Priorities for God and therefore for those who believe in God. Foreigners and strangers will stay in the land or should stay … should be welcomed by anyone who is a believer in God according to Scriptures as if those strangers are angels at our doorsteps. Are you on the ADVENT ROAD that agrees with Jesus or buying the language of the world that seeks to slam the poor into more difficult corners … did you know that my Megan receives less than $500 a month to live on and cannot have $2000 in savings; that is how we respect the poor in this nation while passing laws that give the families of billionaires millions of dollars for their bank accounts just because … imagine living on $500 in a month if you are disabled and poor? How do you live if you don’t have family? Do you like the idea of giving millions to those who have while taking away more from the poor so that the icing on their cakes tastes better while those poor should have known better than to be poor and can eat the crumbs? The Haitians who have called this land home for more than a decade and their children born here will soon be hiding from ICE agents eager to get their arrest totals up … are you cheering on the removal of strangers from our land or do you welcome every person who wants to come to our land for opportunity and liberty from oppression? Saying stay … my home is your home?
My heart is hurting … I am angry … I want my eyes fixed on the STAR … we need a reawakening of Jesus in our world … will not set well with those who enjoy hate and power but did you hear … did you listen … here in church this morning the Prophet Isaiah taught us, that “our light will break out like dawn and we will be healed quickly if we remove the yoke from amongst us … the wicked speech … if we open our hearts to the hungry and provide ABUNDANTLY for those who are afflicted … our light will shine in the darkness … the Lord will guide us continually.”
People of faith … taking on the cross of Jesus by not only saying Christmas is nice … Merry Christmas must be said at stores … people of faith living and breathing and shouting out that the hungry MUST BE FED … the HOMELESS HOUSED … the STRANGER WELCOMED … the CHAINS of INJUSTICE LOOSENED and the MISTREATED SET FREE.
The world desperately needs Jesus … just as the world before that angel visited the brave teenage girl at night needed Jesus … not born in a castle … not born with inherited wealth that needed protection but born amongst the people … He grew into a man who walked and lived with society’s rejects not putting on the velvet robes of the religiously elite … the friends of the Emperor who put down the poor while enriching themselves were not those He walked with.
“The Word became flesh and made His home among us. We have seen His glory … full of grace and truth.” Well, that is if … if you believe and if you believe are you doing all you can to get closer once again to Jesus who is the One who is at His Father’s side but during His time here has made God known?
God’s call to each of us is to be different from the world and to now sit back while the powerful tear apart God’s world. It’s the season when we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace … I pray that you have Immanuel in your hearts because then God is with you and God’s true light is providing you with the direction that will take you away from the darkness that the world is covering us all in.
God’s love through Jesus Christ … God’s Salvation for eternal life … God’s call to live a life for God. It’s time for a reawakening of Jesus in our world … is it time for you to reawaken Jesus in your world too? AMEN
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