On December 4, the second Sunday in Advent at the early service, Bob Meola read the scripture (from Isaiah and Philippians)
Laverna Albury explained the theme to the kids at Children’s Time in a clear and understandable way.
And Rev. Catherine Williams put the words of Isaiah and Paul into the context of their times. How does it make sense that Isaiah calls for peace in the time of war and Paul exudes joy when he is in prison?
It’s paradoxes and existential tensions like these why non-Christians have accused us of having an opiate religion. Because it doesn’t make sense that a small nation would not ask a bigger nation for help in a pending war, but choose rather to trust in God’s deliverance. It doesn’t make sense that a Messiah called the Prince of Peace would be born in a barn, grow up to be ridiculed and eventually killed within a bloody, political system of militarized occupation. It doesn’t make sense that three days after they killed this Prince of Peace he rose from the dead, seen by at least five hundred witnesses. And it doesn’t make sense that a highly educated Jewish scholar like Paul would risk his life, and suffer repeated imprisonment in order to preach and teach about this crucified Prince of Peace – a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. It all makes no sense unless…you are a person of bi-focal vision.
Those with uni-focal vision see life in a singular dimension. But as the people of God, born again by the Spirit of God, we have the capacity to see both as humans see, and as God sees. It’s not absurd to rejoice while you’re in a prison cell if you’ve encountered a God who has been known to use earthquakes to open prison doors and loose chains. It’s not absurd to sing songs of freedom as a slave if you’ve encountered a God who has given you freedom of mind and spirit that no bondage of body can take away. It’s not absurd to live a life of energized service to others while your body is fighting a terminal disease. It’s not absurd at all if you have the divine capacity to see both earthly and heavenly realities at the same time.
Rejoice in the Lord!