Oakley Chapel Rogers AR | An Advent Dream

Advent is a season of preparation and it always has been. From it’s beginning Advent was about preparing one’s self to become part of the church during Epiphany. Somewhere in the middle ages Advent become associated with the coming of Christ and linked to Christmas; however, its true intent was the coming AGAIN of Christ.

Isaiah writes in Isaiah 2:1-5:  This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem: 2 In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. 3 Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4 He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. 5 Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD.  

Isiah was dreaming what it would be like when the Messiah did come to redeem and restore the people of Israel back to God. He dreamed of a place that was filled with love, acceptance, and peace where ALL people would be valued. I don’t know about you, but this sounds pretty good to me; especially in a society that chooses to divide itself along so many lines. If we are not careful, we can become so cynical that such a dream seems to be an impossibility; however, it is very obtainable regardless of present social, political or religious divides.

You may not know it, but I have recently begun training for a Half Marathon that I will run in the Spring. You may also not know I HATE RUNNING (truth is I don’t like much exercise at all); however, I do like the feeling of being in shape. This journey began a year ago when a General told me: “Chaplain, you need to either lose weight or buy bigger clothes; and I suggest the later.”  I was always the family member or friend who never had a weight problem. I was the one who could control my weight without much effort, but those days have long since gone. I was embarrassed and challenged, so I decided that watching what I ate wasn’t going to be enough. I started working out and asked a colleague if he wanted to work out with me, and began inviting others to join us, and now the group is about six individuals. We come together 4-5 days a week where we pray for one another, encourage one another, make fun of one another, and challenge one another to be the best WHOLE persons we can be. 

What began as a dream of just losing some weight and getting in shape has turned into a community of encouragement and dreams. I never dreamed, or thought, about running a half marathon; but today I am looking forward to the opportunity knowing I have people who stand to push, inspire and dream alongside me. This is all because of one person’s comment and another person’s willingness to get involved. This whole process is taking preparation and commitment on many fronts, but has become a refreshment in my life.

As I think about Isaiah’s dream “They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. 5 Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD.”  I know it is possible achieve Isaiah’s dream if we, as people of God, choose this Advent Season to allow the light of a baby in a manger to overshadow our fears and our differences as we seek to live for the Christ to come. I encourage you to see and treat each person this Advent Season with the same dignity and respect we would Jesus if he was walking among us. When we love ALL those around us with the love expressed by the manger, we will realize the peace for which Isaiah dreams.  

 

Happy Advent,

Pastor Shane