Isaiah 2: 1-5
Matthew 24: 36-44
To everything - turn, turn, turn
There is a season - turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven...
And, no, you are all right, we did not have the reading from Ecclesiastes this morning!
But, that refrain has been something of an earworm.... running through my mind the past few days, but especially Saturday as I was trying to pin down my rambling thoughts.
Advent begins the new liturgical year with signs of hope...
Now, you may be forgiven for thinking the gospel reading, with its warnings about being ready and not getting left behind, isn’t exactly hopeful....
And, you may think after the tragic events in Glasgow on Friday night and through the day that things here aren’t hopeful either
There is a time.... for everything
And a time for hope
And there is hope
To my mind, a helicopter, crashing into a crowed pub, and people being able to walk out – is a sign of hope.
And, passersby, strangers in the street, not running away, but running in to help; to form a human chain to get the injured out – is a sign of hope.
And being part of this church family and welcoming a new member into God's family, a new child into our midst – is a sign of hope.
And, displaying for the first time a beautiful piece of embroidery that will enhance our worship space and remind us of someone we loved, who had great faith – is a sign of hope.
And hearing Jesus warn, and encourage, and reassure – is a sign of hope
And hearing Isaiah, all those thousands of years ago, speaking of hope at the end of turmoil and war; speaking of the day when love will reign, when weapons will no longer be necessary; when soldiers will become farmers and we will all walk into the light – is a sign of hope!
Isaiah was writing at a time when for the people of Israel there had been little to hope about; they had spent more time warring with other nations, and each other than anyone could remember. Life was not hopeful... yet into this time of hopelessness came Isaiah’s prophecy – a day when all God’s people would come together; would forget their differences; would be united in returning to God – gathering at God’s mountain – people from all nations, united in peace and love of the Creator.
And that unity leading to the day when all that humanity chose was to follow God’s ways.
Follow God’s teaching
Knowing that God’s way was peace
And thus giving up arms: turning swords to ploughs; spears to pruning hooks
And gathering them into the light.
Imagine how life would feel if we had even a tiny inkling of that!
Our world is full of violence and war; distrust and corruption; disease and sickness; poverty and injustice.... all things that were also prevalent all those thousands of years ago... the exact situation that Isaiah was talking into
How can we not relate?!
But how would it be – what hope would we have, if we began to trust in these prophecies?
This advent, as we think about the things we hope for; think about how we can be the change... step-by-step – little-by-little until we can realise that vision.
We may not be able to change the whole world
But we can change our part of it....
Whether we are supporting disaster relief for the people of the Philippines
Or we are praying in solidarity with the people of a tiny wee pub in the city of Glasgow
Or we are coming together, inviting others in, welcoming new people into our fellowship – we need to start somewhere...
And that is hopeful!
Hold onto the hope – and come, let us walk in the Light which God gives us!