The Advent Collective – 10 December 2020

A daily reflection drawing from Advent Bible passages – to help us grow as we live out our faith in the everyday moments of life.

Welcome to the Advent Collective, day 11.

Have you noticed that some leaders are able to galvanise a team? To pull together a bunch of individuals and fashion them into a collective greater than the sum of their parts.

Well, with Sheffield United languishing at the bottom of the premier league, with only 1 point from their first 11 games, it is probably not the time to be using their manager, Chris Wilder, as an example of great leadership… but I am going to anyway!

When Chris Wilder came to the club, Sheffield United had just endured their lowest league finish for a very long time – 11th in the third tier of English football.

But under Chris Wilder’s leadership, the very next season saw them win the league with a massive 100 points.

Two seasons after that they won automatic promotion to the premier league, finishing second behind Norwich city.

And then last season, tipped for relegation by every football pundit and football journalist in the country… against all odds they finished 9th. Their highest league finish in over 40 years.

The transformation of a team that had hit rock bottom and the journey Sheffield United have been on in such a short space of time has been phenomenal.

It’s been a tough start to the new season… but don’t write them off just yet!

I wonder if you have ever experienced leadership that has been so transformational?

When a group of nobodies has pulled together to achieve something extraordinary?

Or when you and a bunch of friends or colleagues have faced a common threat and someone has taken the lead and galvanised the team and you’ve come through?

Maybe for you it’s been playing sport and the captain or coach has brought the best out you and others.

Some leaders unite and galvanise; others divide and fragment.

What about Trump or Biden? Prime Ministers: Thatcher, Blair, Boris Johnson…

Or how about the leadership of Nelson Mandela?

Or the Spiritual leadership of Desmond Tutu, Ghandi or Martin Luther King…

Some leaders have the ability to galvanise a huge numbers of people around a common cause. To change the course of history…

In our passage today, Micah 5:2-5, God’s judgement was about to fall on nation of Judah. An invading Assyrian army was at the gates of Jerusalem… Why? Because the leaders of the people and the prophets in the land had become rich through theft, greed and corruption. They had divided the nation between rich and poor, Injustice was widespread; the terms of God’s covenant with his people had been trampled underfoot.

Judgement was coming but Micah prophesied a future when a leader would be raised up, a moment when God’s law and justice would be upheld… a new era…

‘But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans[a] of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.’

He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.

Hope for a nation…

The turning of the tide…

The future hope of security and Justice…

A leader whose greatness will reach the ends of the earth!!

A huge promise! A shepherd – a leader – a future king whose leadership would reach every corner of the globe: Jesus!

Jesus came to earth… 2000 years ago. He wasn’t the king that Israel expected, but his influence has spread around the world… however… his justice, security and peace has not been fully realised.

In Advent we remember a time when the world longed for the birth of a child… the shepherd… the longed for leader of people.

And we echo that longing with our own. We recognise that the world isn’t as it should be and we look forward to a time when Jesus will come again and what he begun 2000 years ago will be brought to completion.

In the meantime Jesus is the head of his church. In Jesus we have a leader who seeks to galvanise his people, who will give wisdom, vision and direction to those who hear his call and choose to follow.

The church in this nation is weak, numbers have dwindled, and finances have dried up.

But let’s not forget whose church this is! Let’s not forget that God’s church has endured throughout the generations. Over the course of church history there have been moments like this before. Moments when the church has seemingly lost its way… and it’s in those moments when God has sent reformations and revivals… he’s shaken up his church… the Spirit has come and nations have been transformed, lives have been touched and faith has been fanned into flames.

And Chris Wilder… as great as he is… he has nothing on Jesus… our Lord, our Saviour… our hope and God’s great promise of a better future.