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Bethany Evangelical
Lutheran Church

Ishpeming, Michigan † Est. 1870

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Advent 12/11/2011

We’ve just had a little dose of Merry Christmas with the kids this morning, and that’s OK.  In the lessons for today though, we’re still in Advent, more in the mode of just hearing faint hints of things to come as again this week there is nothing in the lessons that connects directly to the Christmas story, only hints.  Our second week of John the Baptist provides one of those hints, similar to last week, with his words that highlight the role of the one who is coming after him and of course we know who that one is. 

In the passage from Isaiah we get the words that Jesus quoted at the beginning of his ministry about being anointed by the Lord to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to bring liberty to the captives, to release the prisoners and so forth.  He concluded by saying “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing,” which caused some to want to throw him over a cliff for blasphemy; so it is a hint of Jesus but certainly not a very Christmas-y one. 

At the time Isaiah first spoke these words, it probably didn’t prompt anyone to want to throw him over a cliff, it was more likely that they just had trouble envisioning what he was saying.  This was several hundred years before Jesus, after the people of Israel had returned from exile in Babylon but the task of rebuilding Jerusalem was not easy; it was tedious and slow and discouraging.  Homecoming was not as wonderful as they had hoped so they were disillusioned, but rather than wanting to throw Isaiah over a cliff it’s more likely that they would have just wanted him to be quiet and go away.

One of the reasons I like these Old Testament texts during the season of Advent though is because of their honesty.  The prophets spoke into the messiness and reality and disillusionment of life.  This time of year can have kind of a make believe, magical quality about it and that’s not a bad thing, in fact it’s a good thing; we all need to let ourselves enjoy that magical quality of the season.  But the Advent texts call us to wait a little bit on that as they remind us of reality.  This isn’t make believe; the prophets spoke words of hope into the real situations of life and Jesus, as the fulfillment of some of those words of hope, wasn’t born into a make believe world, he was born into this one, one that isn’t just bright lights and tinsel.

So the prophets shared their visions not in a denial of reality, but to proclaim hope in the midst of that reality.  John the Baptist did the same thing with the announcement of the one who was yet to come.  He was kind of weird, but by then the people were ready for any word of hope, living as they were under the thumb of the Roman Empire.  People went out to hear John because they were excited to hear about anyone who might be coming to set them free. 

They longed for words of hope and we’re not much different.  It’s one of the reasons this time of year is special for many of us.  It has its stresses, to be sure, it can be touched by sadness and by whatever else you might be facing, but for many there is something about it that provides a sense of joy and peace and generosity that at least gives us a glimpse of and a hope for, something different.

We’ve got a couple of weeks to go, but I hope during that time and in the Christmas days that follow, that you get a real experience of that something different.

Rev. Warren Geier


Bethany Lutheran Church
715 Mather Avenue
Ishpeming, MI 49849

Phone: 906-486-4351
Fax: 906-486-9640

Rev. Warren Geier, Pastor

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one such child in my name
welcomes me, and whoever
welcomes me welcomes
not me
but the
one who
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