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The sermon for week December 04, 2016

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A New Creation

Sermon “A New Creation” December 4, 2016

Isaiah 11:1-10
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. 2The 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. 3His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; 4but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. 5Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins. 6The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. 7The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. 9They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
10On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.

Sermon:

Wouldn’t it be nice? Wouldn’t it be nice if there wasn’t so much killing going on right now in the world? Wouldn’t that be nice? Wouldn’t it be nice if the Muslims and Christians in the Syria or Pakistan & the rest of the world would miraculously start to live together in peace? Wouldn’t that be nice? Wouldn’t it be nice if there were no violent attacks on college campuses where young people are attacked with knives or run down by cars? Wouldn’t that be nice? Wouldn’t it be nice if immigrants did not need to live in fear, or that woman needed to worry about men abusing them, or that school children needed to worry about being bullied? Wouldn’t it be nice if there were peace on earth?

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were peace between nations? Or, if we can’t have peace between nations, wouldn’t it be nice to have peace within our families? Wouldn’t that be nice? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a whole week together as husband and wife and not have a fight? Wouldn’t that be nice? Wouldn’t it be nice if our children did not fight with each other and got along well?

Wouldn’t it be nice to go on a family vacation and not have any blow-ups? Wouldn’t that be nice? Wouldn’t it be nice if tempers didn’t flare so quickly, like a match that suddenly ignites? If we can’t have peace in Iraq or Syria, maybe we could have peace at home and in our families. That would be nice.

Or, if that isn’t possible, wouldn’t it be nice to have peace within us? Wouldn’t it be nice if I weren’t so harsh with myself? Wouldn’t it be nice if I didn’t explode at myself in anger? Wouldn’t it be nice if my guts were calm? Wouldn’t it be nice if I could sit around all night and not have a compulsion to eat ice cream or have a drink in order to calm my nerves? Wouldn’t that be nice? If I can’t have peace between nations or peace within the family, maybe I could at least have some peace within me?

Or, if I couldn’t have these, wouldn’t it be nice to have peace at least a few days before or after Christmas? During Christmas, we are often short of money, short of time, and short of temper. In preparation for the Prince of Peace, wouldn’t it be nice to have a little bit of Christmas peace at your house or mine?

Down deep inside, don’t all of us long to have a greater sense of peace? Down deep inside of every human being, I believe there is a longing, a deep God-given longing that there would be a greater sense of peace within us, within our families, within our nation, and between nations.

Isaiah felt the same way. Isaiah was a prophet in the Old Testament. He had the same longings. He too, had this longing for peace like a man in the desert longs for water, like a starving person longs for bread. That is the way that Isaiah longed for peace.

The year was 700 B.C. The Jews had been fighting for forty years. First they fought with the Assyrians, then the Egyptians, then the Assyrians, then the Egyptians. All the children had grown up with a spear in one hand and a sword in the other hand. From the time a child was three years old, all they were doing was playing war games. … Can you imagine living in Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria today? From the time you were born until the time you were twenty, all you are taught is to kill or be killed. That is all you have known. Can you imagine forty years of that kind of life? That’s the way it was for Isaiah and his generation. Isaiah was tired of it. He was tired of four decades of killing. He was tired of children being trained to kill. He was tired of mothers and fathers, sons and daughters fighting with each other. He was just plain tired of people fighting. Isaiah longed for peace.

Isaiah was not the only one tired of war and longed for peace. Isaiah knew that all human beings were made for peace. He knew that God created us to be peaceful with each other. Isaiah knew that we were made in the image of God. Because God is peace, we therefore we are made to be peaceful with each other. When God created Adam and Eve and humankind, it was not God’s intention for us to hurt each other. It was not God’s intention for human beings to fight with each other. It was not God’s intentions for mothers and fathers, and husbands and wives, and blacks and whites, and Arabs and Israelis, and Russians and Americans, Muslims and Christians, to be at war with each other. That was not the way that God made us. We are made in the image of God. We are like God. We are made for peace. Therefore, down in our guts, every time we fight with our husband or wife, our children or our self, we don’t like it. Why do you not like it? Why is it that you don’t like to fight? Because you have been conditioned this way? No. Why? Because you have been made in the image of God. You and I have been made by God to be peaceful people. We always feel so much better about life when we are at peace with ourselves, family, and each other. (See Genesis 1:27)

The prophet Isaiah longed for peace. Isaiah dreamed of peace. He wrote down beautiful, beautiful dreams, some of the most memorable words in the whole Bible. “The lamb and the leopard shall lie down together. The suckling child, one who sucks at his mother’s breast, shall play with wasps and not be stung and the weaned child, three or four years old, shall put his hand into a den of cobras and shall not be bitten by the snakes.” Isaiah was a dreamer of peace. He had dreams and visions of peace. He had these dreams because he was made in the image of God. Out of this image he gave voice to the vision from within. The vision God had for us from the beginning.

What are your dreams and hopes? Are they as big as Isaiah’s? … The problem is not that Isaiah’s hopes were too big. The problem is that ours are often too small, way too small. We seldom dream of being part of something big.

Isaiah reminds us that the supersized hopes, the kind that focus on others and their needs, that makes all the difference in our lives. His supersized vision of peace connects with us because we, like Isaiah are made in God’s image, God has instilled in each one of us a vision of peace. We are made for peace.

Do you long for peace? Do you long for peace among the nations? Do you long for peace in your marriage? Do you long for peace in your family? Do you long for peace in yourself? I know that I do. I suspect we all do.

Peace can become a reality when God’s people have the vision for it. When I was growing up there was a wall that divided East Germany from West Germany. There was no peace between the East and the West for the better part of 50 years. But then there began a movement among the churches of East Germany. They began praying for peace.

In Leipzig, on a Monday evening, September 4, 1989 at St Nicholas Church, after the pastor prayed for peace as he had done for some time, the people left the church, and went into the public square to make a public witness for peace. Christians in other cities heard of their public witness and on the following Monday did the same in their own city squares. What began as a few hundred on that September 4th evening, five Mondays later had swelled to 70,000 people praying for peace. A week later 120,000 came and a week later 320,000 came to pray and take a stand for peace. By November 9th, just two months after that initial act of prayer and the resulting public witness, the Berlin Wall began to crumble. The German people were jubilant. The world was jubilant. Because one pastor chose to use the voice God had given to him and to use that voice to proclaim the vision that was already present in the people, a vision that was just waiting to be released, the Berlin wall fell just 8 weeks after that first momentous prayer service.

As a result of the fall of the wall, where there had been no peace between the East and the West, there was peace. What could not be imagined in just three months prior had become a reality.
You see peace can and does happen. Peace can happen between nations. Peace can happen in our families and in our marriages. We can have peace in our inner beings. Peace can happen because we are made in the image of God. We are made for peace.


(For the introduction, I borrowed heavily from a sermon by Edward F. Markquart)

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