31 Maple Street
Bristol, Connecticut USA
December 11, 2022
Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman
Dividing plunder; burning boots and garments rolled in blood; breaking bars, rods, and yokes. I cannot say that any of those things are on my Christmas wish list. None of this military language sounds like love to me; however neither am I living under the military oppression of a foreign country, which is what was happening to God’s people in Isaiah’s time. At this time, God’s people had been split into two countries: Israel and Judah. The Assyrian empire had already destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel and now was recking havoc upon the southern kingdom of Judah, where Jerusalem and Bethlehem were located.
My husband, Stu, and I have been watching the latest Star Wars TV show, and it gives me a little insight into how it must feel to live under military oppression – to be afraid that warriors will come and take your food, your home, your livelihood, your family at any time; to live in the knowledge that you can be peacefully be going about your own business and be wrongfully accused with no hope of justice; to see acts of violence committed with no rhyme or reason.
If that was my life, then God’s promise to break the yoke of my burden, the bar across my shoulders, the rod of my oppressor, to hear that God was going to repurpose these signs of military oppression to create a community of peace and justice, then that would not only be on my wish list, nothing would speak more of God’s love.
To God’s people in Isaiah’s time, to hear that they were going to be freed from Assyrian military oppression, to hear that a son, a child, was going to be given to them and that he would establish a kingdom, a community of endless peace and fairness, in which all might flourish, that promise spoke volumes about God’s love for them, God’s love for the world.
We live in a different time though so God’s promise, God’s love is going to look different to us. The bar across our shoulders, the rod of our oppressors is not a foreign military, but the fear is there. The worry is there. The sadness is there – and so is God’s promise that a son, a child, is going to be given to us. He is and has been establishing a kingdom, a community of endless peace, with justice and righteousness for all. We live in a different time, and yet God also promises us a Savior, God promises us God’s love.
For me, God’s love is cuddling on the couch with my family. And God’s love is someone texting me and reminding me to take 3 deep breathes or asking me how they can help or lending me wisdom – right in that moment when I do not know how I am going to get it all done.
God’s love is having a church community to celebrate and gather with like we did a lot last weekend for the Festival of Incredible Edible Creations and Advent workshop. God’s love is having people check on our family and pray for us when we are sick. God’s love, God’s care shows up in my life in so many, many ways.
A son, a child, a Savior has been given to me, and it makes an incredible difference in my life to have him as my Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace and to live in Christ’s community. Peace comes to my life when I remember that Jesus is my Savior, and that I can turn to him instead of trying to be him.
For my sake, more than yours, I am going to say that again. A son, a child, has been given to us, and he is Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. He, not me, is the Messiah, the Christ, God’s anointed one, my Savior. Peace comes into my life when I remember to turn to Jesus instead of trying to be Jesus.
And when I turn to Jesus with my burdens, my fears, my worries, I naturally point to Jesus. With my behavior, with my prayer life, with my trust, I show others how to turn to Jesus instead of trying to be Jesus. I share with them the good news of God’s love, that a son, a child, has been given to them, too, and that it can make a huge difference in their lives to have him as their Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace and to live in Christ’s community.
Last week, while all around us people were enjoying pizza and crafts and community, my table was having a very faith-filled conversation about how we share with others the good news of God’s love. And as I remember the conversation, we agreed that sometimes, we share the good news of God’s love through quiet, persistent acts of love. We hold someone or sit beside them when they feel like their world is falling apart. We listen to them when they are struggling to understand their life or the world. With all of the love of God in our hearts, we bring them a poinsettia or cookies, yet we say not a word about God. Sometimes, that is how we share God’s love.
And sometimes, we are called to be more vocal. Sometimes, sharing God’s love invites us to share God’s promises of love: that nothing in heaven or on earth can ever separate us from God’s love; that God so loves the world that God gave us a son, a child, that we should live in peace, live in justice, live in fairness and righteousness.
Sometimes, when we are sharing God’s love, it is the right moment to say to someone, ‘I believe in God’s promises. I believe in prayer and I will pray for you.’ Other times, when we are sharing God’s love, it is the right moment to invite someone into Christian community, invite them to worship or a church event.
I am a member of a women’s fraternity. The wedding I went to in November was for one of my college sorority sisters. Eight of us are still friends after more than two decades, and I am so grateful for their presence in my life, but they almost weren’t my friends. I almost did not join the sorority. My first year of college, a woman from my dorm invited me to the sorority house for dinner. Recruitment was one of her goals to join.
I loved it. I loved the women. I loved the house mother. I loved the community. I looked forward to going back; however the woman who had invited me thought that I was just doing her a favor. She never invited me to join, and I was too shy to ask her. God had plans though. I ended up joining over a year later in the second semester of my sophomore year.
I am so thankful for that experience, so thankful for these friendships. I am aware of what I almost missed out on and the experiences I did miss out on – because it never occurred to that woman that I might actually like that community, that I might actually want to belong to that community, that that community might make a difference in my life.
On this Advent Sunday of love, as we wait for the Christ child, God’s love incarnate, to be born on Christmas Day, who in our lives is waiting to know the good news of God’s love in their lives? Who is waiting to be invited to this Christian community and simply too shy to say anything? How can it make a difference in someone else’s life to hear that a son, a child, has been born for them, for them, and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace?
As we walk these Advent days of hope, peace, love, and joy, we give thanks for God’s promises of love for each and every one of us, and we remember that we are a part of God’s promise of love, called to share God’s gifts, God’s good news with the world that all people might walk in the love and light of the Lord.