Advent through Isaiah’s eyes: Is it time yet?Where's the Faith? Thursday, December 1st, 2011
Social Chaos: Where's the Faith?
A popular skit at camps involves about a dozen folks lined up side-by-side, looking anxious and frustrated facing the audience. Each person rests a left elbow on the right shoulder of their neighbor. Then, from left to right, each member asks, “Is it time yet?” When the question arrives at the end of the line, the last person looks at his/her wristwatch and responds, “No.” This reply is passed, one-by-one, each with bored sighs, back to the first questioner. After a few moments, the same question is passed down the line (left elbows remaining on the right shoulders). The last person checks his/her watch and says, “Yes.” When the response again reaches the head of the line, the group lets out a loud and collective sigh. They then change position, now with right elbows leaning on the left shoulders of each neighbor.
There’s no real change here at all. The group is still in the same old place with the same old anxious, frustrated expectations.
Indeed, many of us may be facing the coming days before the Holidays with this very same perspective; anxious, frustrated, expecting little other than the same old hassles and problems; hoping for nothing more than perhaps a moment of relief from the stress of the season. Are we there yet?
Is it time yet? That means that we have only four weeks to plan the “perfect” party; prepare the “perfect” family celebration; begin endless shopping excursions to purchase the “perfect” gifts; decorate the “perfect” tree; and our list of “to-do’s” is endless, spinning out of control.
We desperately seek happiness while simultaneously we anticipate the same old frustration. Our lives seem as cluttered and crowded as the traffic jams around shopping malls. We have learned that expecting perfection usually results in experiencing disappointment.
Is it time yet? Is it time to break this cycle of wishing and wanting perfection?
The prophet Isaiah lived in a time of high anxiety, impatience, discouragement and despair. Powerful Assyria was gobbling up smaller nations. Political infighting and corruption was widespread. Many religious leaders had forsaken their teachings and were promoting alliances with other nations against Assyria.
During that time, God’s people simply did not see the reality of God’s continuing presence and guidance in their lives. Is it time yet? For them it was only time for the “same ol’, same ol’”… no real change, no real hope, just a collective group sigh as they anticipated only more of the same misery.
As hall of fame catcher, Yogi Berra, once said, “The future ain’t what it used to be.”
Is it time yet? Is it time for a real word of promise, a real word of hope from God?
The answer is a resounding “Yes.” Isaiah saw the word of promise. God expands Isaiah’s perception to see beyond the “yuck” and see a new reality – God’s reality.
Isaiah then proceeds to unfold God’s promise. In Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament, God’s word, is not simply a concept or a collection of letters. God’s word is a thing, a force, a power that can be seen and experienced.
And this word, in the “days to come” is a sure and certain Advent promise from God to everyone.
First, it’s a promise of peace to all nations: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; neither shall they learn war anymore.” How can this be? Can you imagine? In Isaiah’s time, wars and rumors of war around the world were a very real part of daily existence. It’s still true today.
Is it time yet? Yes, indeed. And yet, in spite of continuing wars, God’s Advent promise is being fulfilled in our midst. Christ, the Prince of Peace has come, is coming and will come again.
Is it time yet? We still yearn for a time and space that’s free from the stress and anxiety of daily living. During this busy season of the year, family tensions, economic stress and everyday worries seem to grow even stronger – occupying our existence. And yet, it is time … God’s time. Isaiah’s “days to come” are here; in spite of our stress and worry.
So then, what does that mean for us? For Christians, Advent is a time of remembering that Christ has come. Advent is also a time of preparation for the “days to come,” the celebration of Christ’s birth and the promise that Christ will come again.
Advent is a time to remember how God has been present and active in our experience; times when we were certain of God’s presence and guidance.
It is time … God’s time … and the time is here. God has given us God’s own shoulder to lean on. God has already given us loving arms to keep us flying for joy on our knees through and beyond whatever turmoil we are facing.
Is it time yet? It’s time to celebrate.
You are invited to attend an evening of celebration in music at The Met, Saturday, Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. Also, mark your calendars to attend our traditional Christmas Eve candlelight services at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. See themetchurch.org for more info.
Rev. Dan Koeshall is the Senior Pastor at The Metropolitan Community Church (The Met) in San Diego, California, themetchurch.org.
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