December 10, 2017
Stetson Memorial UMC
2nd Sunday of Advent
Sermon Series: “The Invitation”
Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13 (The Voice)
Isaiah 9:6-7 (The Voice)
Isaiah 11:1-9 (The Voice)
Romans 14:17-19 (The Voice)
“An Invitation to Peace…”
The Lord Be with you
and also with you
Let us pray…Pray for the Spirit’s Leading…
A reading from the Prophet Isaiah from chapter 9, verses 6-7. Listen and take heed the words spoken by the prophet, through the Spirit of God, to the children of Israel and to the children of God throughout the centuries…
“I think I understand the first part of what the manger offers. I am offered Hope that I can have a relationship with God because of the invitation that Jesus gives me…right?” Hope explained to her new friend Esther. “Right. But, we are also offered even more than that,” Esther explained. “we are offered peace.” Now Hope couldn’t remember having true peace in her life so this intrigued. I know all about not having peace. I don’t think I ever had it in my life. So, this peace. What do I need to do to get it? I really could use some in my life. I am tired of stressing everything.” Hope asked.
“Well first, you need to ask for it. Second, you need to trust Jesus for your peace. Third, give your worries to Jesus and He will take care of the rest. You see, this peace has nothing to do with your situation and everything to do with the One who is offering it.” Esther excitedly explained. “Oh boy this is going to be hard” Hope lamented. “Well it really is very simple and once you decide you are going to accept the invitation to an invitation of peace, it gets much easier.” Esther explained. “I really wish someone had explained all this to me before. My life may have been different” Hope said. “But it can now be different beginning today” Ester said as she put her had on Hope’s shoulder.
Good morning and welcome to “The Invitation…” The invitation of Advent. We have begun our “Advent”ure to the feeding tough the Bread of Life, our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ was laid in. It is the moment that God sent the invitation to all of humanity to come and see the babe in the manger and return forever changed. Without this invitation there is no Hope, no Peace, no Joy, and no Love…there is no invitation to Christ. Without “The Invitation”, there is no Resurrection Sunday morning.
We have pondered the questions why is this invitation important to you and I? What does this invitation consist of…do we know what actually laid in that manger when love came down? We have even asked the hard question if we “Christians”, are even aware of the joyous gift we are given and if we even accept the whole gift not just part. This season, I ask that you join me on an “Advent”ure. Let’s really look at what we are invited to. My prayer is as we do this…we are going to be changed. My prayer is as we journey together and discover or rediscover the excitement of “The Invitation.”
Last week, I asked you…and I… to do something truly radical. Something I feel is necessary for our journey. To empty our baggage, we carry at the door of Advent and walk through the door with empty suitcases. Now I am asking we leave with an empty suitcase for this reason, to fill it with the invitation. Now some of us go on vacation with and empty bag or almost empty. Why? So that we can fill it with things we gather on the journey. I am inviting us to gather all that we can to be able to bring it on our new journey of the New Year in the end. Even as we enter the story of hope, peace, joy, and love, we find it hard to believe at times.
Last week we began with the first invitation of the “The Invitation” which is “an invitation to Hope.” Now I am talking about the Hope of the invitation… it is a hope of restoration with and to God. We talked about how the Israelites were leading a double life, giving God “lip service” instead of “life service”. They talked a great talk about God but behind the scenes they were bowing down to idols of the culture. Sounds familiar to us…praise God for His restoration project that began in the manger…we now have hope in ad through Jesus Christ…
So here we are a little closer to the manger, yet it can be unsettling. We know who Jesus is, but, we may be a little afraid because of who Jesus is. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. And as we come closer the Angels tell us “do not be afraid for I bring you good news.” Fear can keep us from some of the awesome things in life because we are afraid to take the first step. Fear of the unknown… But as we approach we are offered “An Invitation to Peace”.
Now some of us say we love a good piece of pie but I am talking about an0ther kind of piece…a piece of peace. The invitation is “An Invitation to Peace.” The Isaiah scripture from this morning talks about who Jesus is… God’s promised child from the lineage of David. He will bring peace and it will not be shaken. This ‘living gift” is given to and for all who believe in Mary’s boy child. My favorite piece of scripture about the “peace” f this boy child is found in Isaiah 11:1-9…The Peaceable Kingdom…
Isaiah 11:1-9The Voice (VOICE)
11 But on this humbled ground, a tiny shoot, hopeful and promising,
will sprout from Jesse’s stump;
A branch will emerge from his roots to bear fruit.
2 And on this child from David’s line, the Spirit of the Eternal One will alight and rest.
By the Spirit of wisdom and discernment
He will shine like the dew.
By the Spirit of counsel and strength
He will judge fairly and act courageously.
By the Spirit of knowledge and reverence of the Eternal One,
3 He will take pleasure in honoring the Eternal.
He will determine fairness and equity;
He will consider more than what meets the eye,
And weigh in more than what he’s told.
4 So that even those who can’t afford a good defense
will nevertheless get a fair and equitable judgment.
With just a word, He will end wickedness and abolish oppression.
With nothing more than the breath of His mouth, He will destroy evil.
5 He will clothe himself with righteousness and truth;
the impulse to right wrongs will be in his blood.
With unwavering steps and integrity uncompromised, He will establish peace.
6 A day will come when the wolf will live peacefully beside the wobbly-kneed lamb,
and the leopard will lie down with the young goat;
The calf and yearling, newborn and slow, will rest secure with the lion;
and a little child will tend them all.
7 Bears will graze with the cows they used to attack;
even their young will rest together,
and the lion will eat hay, like gentle oxen.
8-9 Neither will a baby who plays next to a cobra’s hole
nor a toddler who sticks his hand into a nest of vipers suffer harm.
All my holy mountain will be free of anything hurtful or destructive,
for as the waters fill the sea,
The entire earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Eternal.
Now that’s real Peace that He will bring. That is an invitation from the invitation…to have real peace…not based on the world and our feelings but based on God’s unfailing love and the ability of the Prince of Peace to bring order out of chaos.
We are told not to worry in life and to have peace because of the Prince of Peace. God’s kingdom has nothing to do with our worry and everything to do with our trust and faith. Let me read what it tells us in Romans chapter 14, verses 17-19…
Romans 14:17-19The Voice (VOICE)
17 because the kingdom of God is not about eating and drinking. When God reigns, the order of the day is redeeming justice, true peace, and joy made possible by the Holy Spirit. 18 You see, those who serve the Anointed in this way will be welcomed into the whole acceptance of God and valued by all men. 19 Join us, and pursue a life that creates peace and builds up our brothers and sisters.
As we trust and have peace within us, we don’t tend to worry and that peace we bring into our lives and we are able to live peaceably with our neighbors…kind of like a for-taste of the Peaceable Kingdom.
Within “The Invitation” was and is “An Invitation to Hope…”. Within “The Invitation” of Advent, God worked out His plan of the restoration of humanity to Himself. Within “The Invitation” is “an invitation” to all the promises of long ago were offered to all of humanity. Within “The Invitation” we are set free to hope once more. Found within “The Invitation” we have “An Invitation to Peace”, the peace beyond all understanding. This peace has nothing to do with you or I and how we are feeling but it has to do exclusively with the One who offers it who says, “Come near the manger and be set free…Come and accept the offer of the invitation to come and see…Come and have life eternally…Come without fear and trust in Me.” Maybe…just maybe…as we cast the cares of or lives aside we truly can have the peace that goes beyond understanding… Maybe…just maybe we can give peace a chance and watch what happens… You never know…perhaps we may start a new trend that ushers God’s peace to the world in which we live.
You never know…