DATE: 1 December 2013
TO: Yogyakarta International Congregation
THEME: INTENTIONALITY (Color: Purple Topic: Hope)
TITLE: Get GOD’s House in Order

Hebrew Scripture- Isaiah 2:1-5 NIV. This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem: 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. 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. 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. Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord.

Psalm 122:1-9 NIV. I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Our feet are standing in your gates, Jerusalem. Jerusalem is built like a city that is closely compacted together. That is where the tribes go up— the tribes of the Lord — to praise the name of the Lord according to the statute given to Israel. There stand the thrones for judgment, the thrones of the house of David. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.” For the sake of my family and friends, I will say, “Peace be within you.” For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your prosperity.

Gospel Reading- Matthew 24:36-51 NIV. “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Get GOD’s House in Order

Happy Sunday! I wish each of you a belated Happy Thanksgiving!!

Good evening to you! I have to tell you that this holiday season has come as a surprise to me. Maybe it is because there is no snow, or because I haven’t seen many Christmas decorations on the roads…

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. Advent, means waiting! Advent is waiting for the arrival of a notable person. According to Christian theologians advent is the time of waiting for the arrival of Christ (birth the first and the second coming). So, advent is the beginning, the time, the season of expectant waiting for the celebration of The Nativity of Jesus. For some, this season also offers a reminder that He will come again and that we are anticipating that next return as well.

Many western churches today are decorated with poinsettias and holly (green and red colors spilling forth from the altar flowers), but the church itself is dressed in one of two colors…
Purple as befitting a royals arrival; or
Blue a color representing hope.

Today, my home church, in Connecticut, Manantial de Gracia, like many churches will be lighting a purple candle, and a family will be invited to tell the congregation what HOPE has meant for them this past year.

Introduction
Todays Gospel reading comes from the Gospel according to Matthew, chapter 24, verses 36-51. Lets do a quick retell:

A host selects a party theme, plans the menu, and sends out the invitations. A set of friends receive invitations that simply say, get ready. Prepare for a party to end all parties! Theis will be The Party of the Year. The friends read their invitations and smile, each preparing for the party. Each one preparing as they think best for the expected and the unexpected. Hopefully anticipating!

Daily they go through the process of getting ready. Never sure when the party will happen as the date and time are to be a surprise!

A couple receives their invitation to a party. The invitation says be ready, and expect the unexpected… They share the news with their two young children. The children understand that the party day is coming. The children KNOW how to prepare for that. Each morning they wake up early, clean their rooms and select their SPECIAL clothes. They excitedly wake their parents asking, is today the party? Anticipating joyfully!

Daily they go through the process of getting ready. Never knowing the date and time.

Two young children hear speak about Santa. The bearer of gifts for all children. They hear their parents talking about gifts, and so they plan and prepare. They write a list of the gifts they want and daily they talk about the day when Santa will arrive. They plot and plan and discuss… Their parents remind them how to behave in a way that is worthy of the greatness of the gifts to come. Full of joy they wait.

These children, knowing the date and time simply wait, knowing that the day and time willl arrive EVENTUALLY.

For those of us who have ever waited, we know that time passes. But if we dont kniw the date and time… one grows tired of dressing up and waiting.

Before I continue, let us pray: …

This weeks sermon is titled: Get GOD’s House in Order (HOPE)

Chaos
In todays reading from the Hebrew Text (Isaiah 2:1-5 NIV) we find a prophetic rendering. If we were to first return to chapter 1, we would witness God’s disappointment. Disappointment in a people that have been shown mercy time after time. In a people who have been nourished, yet still manage to disappoint their Creator. These are an inconsiderate and inconsistent people who seem clueless in how best to act.

The Word reads, “I have nourished and bought up children and they have rebelled against me,” (Isaiah 1:3). These are people who have been shown every mercy and consideration and still don’t act right. A disappointing people.

People much like us… Who, while waiting have become anxious or tired or bored. Sometimes though we know what we should do…it becomes easier to do what we WANT to do. And even through those times, God does not leave us or forsake us even though we are a disappointment…

God’s House
God brings a message of renewing hope through two contemporary prophets (Isaiah 2:1-3 and Micah 4:1-3)

This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem: 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.

A time is coming when people will want to relearn the things they forgot. They will be, once more, looking for fulfillment from The Living God. And once people from every nation will seek the church of God (not the building or the tradition) but that God place that gives true respite.

And those people who are seeking respite will find it. A special peace will flow through the land.

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. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples.

Hope
The message that comes out of the text is one of hope. Hope for a renewed peace for these people. For God’s continued mercies…

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.

Beating swords and making them into “garden tools” wont be easy. It can’t be. Think about it, the materials used to construct swords is metal and metals are not easily malleable. Recently I had an opportunity to go into the studio of a silversmith. And I learned what I know realize was an important lesson.

In order for a metal to change you need special tools. Cutting implements, hammers, mallets, fire and water. The metal must be melted to the correct temperature so that it can be shaped according to a plan or a blueprint. Things must get difficult for that metal during the reconstruction process. If overheated the metal can become so hot that it bubbles, which creates pockets of air that makes the metal easy to break. But if under-heated, the metal will also be unmanageable because it will not bend. The temperature has to be “just right”.

When the Messiah returns, The Second Coming, during this reign of the Messiah, war will be no more. That does not mean that conflict will seize, but rather that peaceful resolutions to problems will be found by a just and decisive Messiah and those who follow him. For peace to be understood though, it unfortunately must first include the discomfort of conflict. For a sword to be remade into a plow, it unfortunately must include fire and saws.

See, after the swords metal is heated to that perfect temperature, during that brief time when it is easily malleable, it is quickly reshaped into a new form using a template. Quickly before it hardens! Then, the silversmith begins the intricate process of completing the shaping using every tool at his disposal. Diligently he cuts into the metal to get the finer details, carving, shaping, and reshaping at will. He reheats the metal for a bit to get it soft enough to continue to mold it using fine mallets and small hammers. Hopeful that the shape will hold.

During this holiday season as we wait for the wisemen to arrive (as we await the arrival of The Messiah), realize that life will get complicated. That before the Messiah arrives you will go through the fire. That before Peace will come, you will be hit by hammers and mallets. That before the gift that has been selected just for you can be opened, the fire will blaze time and time again. But keep hope. Use this waiting time before the party wisely. Use this time to get Gods house, the house that exists within your soul, in order. Knowing, that at every moment that we are being held over the fire, God has us protected.

Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord.

This is an open invitation to walk in the way of blessing. To walk in the truth and light. Knowing that struggles will still arise. But that our Creator will see us through the fire. Amen.

Song: Again by Janet Jackson

Prayer
God, have seen us hurt each other. You have seen our tears. You have seen our pain, the pain we have felt and the pain we have inflicted. Sometimes in the abuse of Your name and Your message. Lord, file us down, burn us, renew us that we might be reshaped in the image of your Hope…we are your children. Amen.

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