The Advent Collective – 6 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.

Hello, my name is Sam and welcome to the Advent Collective. As we have begun journeying through this season together, I’ve been really blessed by what I’ve heard so far and I hope you have been too. It is only in recent years I’ve understood more of the heart behind this funny pre-Christmas period. It’s not just a time for chocolates and candles, but this ancient festival reminds us of the eternal hope that is found in Jesus. The act of God putting on flesh and moving into the neighbourhood. And it reminds us of the hope that we profess for the Kingdom to come as we wait for and long for Christ’s glorious return.

Now today, we’re going to be looking at chapter 40 of the book of Isaiah. I’d encourage you to read the whole thing in your own time, it’s an absolute corker. But for now, here is verse 9:

‘You who bring good news to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good news to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!”’

I have quite a small family, especially in comparison to others when it comes to cousins. I have just 3 on both sides. The youngest of my cousins is called Joe. Joe was born in 2008, and while I don’t have fantastically clear memories of being 9 years old, I have a very distinct memory from the day he was born.

My auntie had gone into labour and while they were busy at the hospital, Joe’s older siblings, Ethan and Jess, were at our house being looked after by my mum and dad. It was a lovely July afternoon, we’d all just finished school, we were playing in the garden, I’m wearing shorts – it’s a good time.

As we’re playing, the landline starts to ring. At the sound, we all stopped and stood still, silently watching through the windows as my mum answered the phone. We all looked around at one another eagerly anticipating some news. Then, mum puts the phone down, we glance at each other again. She walks towards the door, and like the Queen emerging on the balcony of Buckingham Palace she says, “he’s here.”

Cousin Jess explodes in unfiltered joy, frantically jumping around, clapping her hands, excited beyond all control and rationality. She is 6 at this point so we’ll let her off. But it’s this news of a baby brother that releases in her sheer joy and delight, so much so that she can not keep it to herself. She can not contain it. The news of ‘here is your brother’ is good news.

In this passage from Isaiah 40, we read similar words. He calls those who have good news to share it, to shout it, to tell everyone – “Here is your God!” Just like my cousin heard the news ‘here is your brother’, who needs to hear to words “here is your God” today? Who needs to hear the truth of who God is? Who needs to know the good news of Jesus Christ this Advent?

In our Bible reading, Isaiah is calling those who have been faithful to Yahweh to remind their own people, God’s chosen family that he is their God. Reminding them of who he is, what he has done, and what he has promised to do.

That was the cry to Israel, “here is your God!” Our cry is the same today.

We read in scripture that each and every person on Earth is fearfully and wonderfully made. Knitted together in their mother’s womb. Created to know their creator. Our restless souls yearn for a home. Other things in life try and imitate it, but that home is found in the Father. In our Father. You see God longs for a relationship with each person he has created. He chases after them. He leaves the 99 to chase after and seek out the 1 who has gone astray. Here is your God! Or in another translation, “Behold! Look”, here is your God! This is who he is! And this is the good news we have to tell.

As much as this is a call to share the good news with those who haven’t heard it yet, it’s also a call to those who have. To those who have heard it so many times they know the words people are going to say before they’ve even said it.

Isaiah is speaking to his own people. To his own family. “Here is your God!” Many had turned a deaf ear to the Lord, the nation is in decline, the Northern Kingdom has succumb to the Assyrian Empire, Judah is left fighting on its own. Times are tough. They need to be told, “here is your God” and reminded of his promises spoken again and again through the generations.

You see the culmination of the Advent is the arrival of Jesus, the personification of good news. Stepping down from heaven, the humble king making his dwelling among us.

Yet, the good news of the Kingdom of God is timeless. It is outlasts the ages. The good news Isaiah wrote of many centuries before Christ, is all part of the same good news story. That despite our wrongdoings, despite our shortcomings, despite our disobedience, God rescues us. That our sin is pardoned. That our debt has been paid in full. That there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God.

This advent, more than ever, we need to remind ourselves and tell others of this good news. Shout it from the mountains, from the rooftops, with a loud voice, “Here is your God!” Jesus Christ, Immanuel, God with us, the saviour of the world.

Let’s pray.

Lord, thank you that you came to Earth. Thank you that you showed us the way to live. Help us to live more like you, Jesus. Amen.