Sermon December 13, 2020

HELP IS ON THE WAY
SERMON 12/13/2020
BY DR. TERRY SWICEGOOD 

Dot Bell has the best line of this year, for my money.  She said she is definitely staying up until midnight on December 31, not so much to ring the New Year in but to ring the old year out.

2020!  What a year.  Most of us have been waiting since March for this year to be over.  It’s a year that’s had too much strife, too much injustice, too much partisanship, too much death. Whether we look at the national numbers or we look at our own friends and family, no one has been untouched by the pandemic.  So we wait. 

We wait for new political leadership. We  wait for social justice to be realized in this country. We  wait for a vaccine so that we can embrace friends and family again.  

Waiting is the dominant motif of Advent.  With sages and seers and prophets of long ago, we await the Messiah.  There are at least 17 passages in the Old Testament that emphasize this motif.  

We know many of them.  “Behold a virgin shall conceive, and give birth to a Son, and you shall call his name  Immanuel, God with us.”  Isaiah 7:14

“For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given.  And the government shall be upon his shoulders.  And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of peace.”    Isaiah 9:6-7.  

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.  Zechariah 9:9.  

What exactly did the Jews expect the Messiah to look like?

Jews believed that the Messiah would come from the line of King David.  He would restore the fortunes of Israel, which had been beaten down and trampled upon by her adversaries.  He would be anointed by God with holy oil and rule Israel with righteousness during the Messianic Age and reign in the the life to come. 

With those expectations in mind, we can see how Jesus is such a disappointment to Jewish believers.  He just doesn’t fit their Messianic  mold.  

I am not interested in getting into a theological battle with our Jewish friends on who is the Messiah and whether he has already come.  You know where I stand on that.

Instead, I want to reflect on this dominant motif in Advent, the motif of waiting.

For Jews and Christians alike are waiting for this old world to be a better place.

Jews and Christians alike are waiting for justice to reign and injustice to be snuffed out.  

Jews and Christians alike are waiting for this awful pandemic to end and life to return to a new normal.

We are waiting.  We are waiting.

The first Briton to get the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was 90-year-old Margaret Keenan.  She received  the first of two doses at 6:31 a.m. local time this past Tuesday at University Hospital in Coventry, less than a week after the UK became the first country to approve it.

Keenan, who turns 91 next week, said she felt “privileged” to be first to get the shot.

“It’s the best early birthday present I could wish for because it means I can finally look forward to spending time with my family and friends in the New Year after being on my own for most of the year.” 

In a statement the other day, my nominee for person of the year, Dr. Anthony Faucci spoke about the vaccines coming on line.  “Help is on the way,” he proclaimed. 

By this  time next year all of us will have been vaccinated.  By this time next year, and hopefully long before, we will be back in church together, singing at the top of our lungs, hugging each other so fiercely we squeeze the very stuffing out of our gizzards. 

Help is on the way.  The vaccine is coming.  The Messiah is coming.    

Think on these things–that history is still in God’s hands, that the Cross is still God’s way, that the kingdom is both among us and yet to come, and that the night will not be long.

Or as the Psalmist put it:
    “Wait for the Lord, be of good courage
    And He shall strengthen thy heart.
    Wait, I say, on the Lord.”

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