Grace Changes Everything

Redeemer Presbyterian

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Darkness is Universal

Greetings and grace to you, my friends. As we prepare for the second week of Advent with the theme of PEACE, let me encourage you to continue your reading along with us in Isaiah. If you’ve missed a day or two, no worries. Just pick up where the reading is and enjoy. Remember, take a moment each day to pray for the mercies of the Lord. This Lord’s Day we will be in Isaiah 9:2-6 (focusing on v2).

Well, it just doesn’t work to start in the middle of a story. You can’t crack open a novel and begin reading in the middle and make any sense of what’s happening. There’ll be conversations that make no sense. There’ll be things that people are choosing to do that confuse you completely. You can’t walk into the middle of a movie and make sense out of what is happening. Some of you have tried, but it doesn’t work.

You just can’t begin in the middle of a story, and if you start in the Christmas season with the baby in Bethlehem, you’re not starting at the beginning of the story. You’re actually starting at the middle of the story, and there’ll be things that don’t make any sense. Why the celebratory songs of the angels? Why the fearful anticipation of the shepherds? Why the inquisitive journey of the kings? Why the political panic of Herod? Why, why, why?

You really have to start at the beginning of the story, and that’s our plan this Advent. Last week, Chad spoke on the promise of a child hundreds of years before his birth. This Sunday we will be reminded that the story of the baby in the manger is rooted in darkness. And if you don’t understand the depth of that darkness, you won’t understand the glory of the story of that baby in a manger.

The Christmas story is itself a hope story. It’s about hope created, hope lost and hope restored. The second thing may sound a bit confusing, but we’ll understand it as we look at this passage. The doorway to hope is hopelessness. Darkness.

The only way you will ever find true hope is to give up on all those places where you’ve tended to put your hope that can’t deliver. The doorway to hope is hopelessness. And hope, to be reliable, to be trustworthy, to be hope, must fix what is broken. Hope, to be hope, must address the biggest, deepest, darkest dilemmas of our lives. If hope can’t fix what’s broken, why would you hope in it? This hope, though, is not a situation; it is not a location; and it is not an experience. Hope is a child, and His name is Jesus.

This is the promise God’s people received in Isaiah 9. They were promised light in the places that only knew darkness. They were promised freedom instead of slavery. They were promised glory instead of shame. They were promised peace instead of war.

They were promised a child. Not just any child. They were promised a king — better than any king they knew. They were promised a king whose reign would be known by things like justice and righteousness and peace. They were promised a king whose reign would be without end.

They were promised an eternal king who would make everything right. Forever.

However, when Isaiah spoke of such things, few listened, and few believed. For those who did believe, it wasn’t Isaiah they believed, but instead the God who promised again and again that his passion for his people would make this miracle happen (v7).

Will you believe? Jesus once asked the question: ‘When the Son of Man returns will he find faith?’ Advent reminds us to watch and wait. Join us this Lord’s Day as we consider Immanuel, God with us in darkness. This is a wonderful time of the year to invite your friends and family to join you at church. Have you invited someone to come along with you? If not, why not? Will you pray for those who are walking in darkness?

I give thanks to God for the privilege of serving you as pastor, and count it a joy to serve alongside servants such as Chad and Richy. Thank you, Chad, for faithfully preaching the Word of the Lord and shepherding our people. And thank you, Richy, for faithfully leading our worship team to lead us all in worship of the King of kings. Michelle and I are eagerly anticipating joining you in this second week of Advent. Thank you for the privilege of time away with family. We love you in Christ.

Come, Lord Jesus,