The Advent Collective – 7 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 and thank you for tuning in to the Advent Collective today. We’re going to be looking together at Isaiah 52, unravelling this wonderful story of Jesus Christ, that underpins the whole of scripture, as we go.

As you will have heard so far as part of this series, a significant theme of Advent is this idea of home. We’ve talked about it already on this podcast.

I wonder what comes to mind when you think of home? Do you think of family? Comfort? Warmth? Or you might think of fear? Abuse? Loneliness?

I know especially during this time, the idea of home has changed dramatically. For many, home is no longer the place you go back to. The place you return to. For some at the moment, and I think especially of my Grandma who is 87 and lives alone, it’s the place you never leave.

Some of you listening to this may be students. Home is always a tricky one when studying in a different city. I remember when I was a student, that first tea back at home at the end of a term was always so special. It felt like I’d left all my bags, literal and figurative, at the door and could relax. For most of you, that’s not the case at the moment. You can’t pop home for a weekend, or travel to a different place to see old friends.

Some of you listening may be in a situation like my Grandma who lives on her own and has barely been past the end of her drive since March. Home can feel lonely. Home can feel isolating.

Some of you listening may be finding it really hard to connect with Church at the moment. Maybe your family don’t believe in the same things that you do and it feels like an ongoing battle over what Sunday mornings consist of.

For so many of us, home is a place of rest, relaxing, sleeping, eating, working, worshiping, praying, grieving, mourning.

The story of God’s people through history is a story of returning home. From Eden, to Canaan, to Egypt, to wandering in the desert, to nationhood, to judges, Kings, prophets, exile, conquest.

This passage in Isaiah 52 is no different. The Israelites are in a tough spot. Some have already been conquered and led off into a foreign land. Some are still fighting for survival. Most have turned away from the Lord. Isaiah prophesies “Wake up! Wake up! Shake off the dust and rise again. Salvation is here. You are coming home.”

At every step, God’s desire was to be at one with his people. That they would be his, and he would be theirs. To lead them back into his arms.

Just like us, the Israelites turned away from the Lord and decided they knew best. However, in all of this, God did not abandon them. He did not say, forget this, I’m out. He did not say I’ve had enough, I’ll leave you to it. He was faithful to the end. And he is faithful to the end. And the good work he began thousands of years ago will be seen to completion as scripture promises.

And that completion is what we wait for in Advent. Jesus Christ coming to earth, as a baby first, and with the call of trumpets second. We wait for the new heaven and the new earth. We wait for home. Jesus’ first coming and through the redeeming power of the Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, God’s home is in us by his Holy Spirit. His second coming instigates a new home. The new heaven and the new earth we read of in Revelation chapter 21.

It’s the restoration of all things. As they were and as they should be. In perfect relationship and union. Everything made new. Every tear wiped, no more death, no more mourning, no more crying. We will be his people and he will be our God.

Christmas is the time when our homes truly come into their own. Hosting family and friends, decorations, trees, the smells, the tastes. But we’re all having to accept that this year is going to be very different. I’m sure you’ve had moments of frustration with trying to make plans, having to make sacrifices, not being able to see everyone you may like to. I’ve felt that. It’s really hard. But the encouragement of this passage is that God has not abandoned us, he’s not left us alone. He is breaking into and ushering in parts of his kingdom right now.

This advent, consider those for whom home is not a place they want to be. People may even come to mind as I say that. Pray for them during this time. Reach out. Send that text or make that phone call. Or that person may be you. Home may not be a place of rest or of safety. But the assurance that the Lord makes to his people throughout history is that he has a plan. And let me tell you now, it’s a good one. He is in the business of restoration. He is in the business of bringing old for new, for making wrong things right. We see it in the world around us don’t we. Miracles, healing, breakthrough. And we long for that day when everything will be put right, especially during this season of advent. Yet as we wait, we welcome and watch for his kingdom breaking out in our lives. We are his people. He is our God. That is home.

Let’s pray.

Lord, thank you that you have made your home in our hearts. We long for when you return. Give us today an eternal hope by the promises you have made to your people through the generations. Amen