Sunday, November 27 The First Sunday of Advent
Joy Beyond Joy
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. Isaiah 11:1-3a (NRSV)
Joy beyond joy is shared by the prophet in this reading. I can’t imagine what it must have
been like to hear this prophecy when it was first spoken, how filled with unimaginable joy
they must have been.
The people hearing Isaiah’s prophecy have suffered much. Granted, much of it was their
own doing. The rich oppressed the poor in order to get richer. Greed was their god, the
idol they worshiped. Though God had delivered them from exile and slavery, giving them
a land of their own, the people were not faithful. They took God’s goodness for granted
and went their own way. And now God is saying that there will be a Savior, the Messiah,
one from whom peace will come, despite their deeds.
And that is the thing, isn’t it, that peace will come. Not just an ordinary peace, which we
might name as the absence of violence, but a complete peace, one that is unimaginable:
The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the
lion and the failing together…
After suffering terribly as a result of their own choices, God’s word of salvation comes.
And, it is not merely that everything would be OK. It is far more than that. It is a peace
that is beyond human imagining, a coming together of all creation in harmony and
knowledge of the Creator.
We read Isaiah’s words and can we imagine it? Can we feel the deep joy that Isaiah’s
people felt? Can we imagine it now, in our world filled with injustices of all kinds?
This is what Advent is for―to remind us of God’s promises and let them fill us with joy.
We are given time to reflect and remember, to believe with wild abandon and to be filled
with joy because of all that God has done, is doing and will do. Though we fail, God
never will. And, there will be a time of holy peace
God of joy, we thank you for the hope you send our way. At times we can be
discouraged by the state of our world, by inhumanity, inequality and injustice. But you
promise that one day things will be different, that peace and righteousness will reign.
May we see your promise and work for your kingdom accordingly. By the power of your
Holy Spirit, may we build up this world in hope and joy. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Cynthia Bacon Hammer
Heritage Congregational Church