Thought for the Week: 13th December 2020

Our thought this Sunday is taken from Rev Peter Sheasby’s weekly Youtube service.  If you want to watch the full service follow the links from www.ryedalemethodist.org.uk .

Believe the Good News!

Isaiah 61:1-4

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,

3     and provide for those who grieve in Zion –
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendour.

 

The Isaiah reading is one we more usually associate with Jesus (when he reads it in the Synagogue at the start of his ministry) than John the Baptist. Of course, originally it was about neither of them, but these are the words of the prophet speaking about himself. The people of Israel are back in Jerusalem, back home, back at the Temple. Now, Isaiah says, there is a new beginning, the world will be a better place because God will make a new covenant with them. It is what they wanted, it is what John the Baptist wanted, it is what we want. Sadly, because humans are fallen sinners, we never quite manage to keep it up.

But that doesn’t mean we should ever stop trying, having another go. Even each day we get up, start afresh and try to do a little bit better than yesterday. Advent is about penitence, saying we are sorry that we have failed God through another year, and yet it is also about preparation, to try harder, do better, be what God wants us to be.

Christmas has become a celebration for the haves: with luxury food, expensive drink, extravagant presents, generous gifts, we all fall into the trap of commercialism. But really it is about the have-nots, the Good news to the Shepherds, the poorest working men out at night, outcast from society. When John the Baptist called people to repent it was because they had fallen back into the bad old way, and were looking after themselves rather than the poor and despised, who were loved only by God. They, we, need to turn our lives around, and work towards that vision of the kingdom of God that we have been thinking about for the past months.

This year Christmas will be very different for so many; the bereaved who have lost loved ones and not fully been able to mark their passing; the continuing sick, who having had the virus still suffer its effects; the unemployed who have lost their jobs because the world has changed around them; those who are worse off for being furloughed and on short time working; God’s word for all of them is a simple Yes!

Jesus came for you, for the poor, the needy, the lonely, the sick and the mourners. And Jesus, when adult, called them “blessed”.

So rejoice this Christmas, even if you are going to be alone. Put on your best clothes, be like a bride or groom dressed for a wedding, for Jesus is coming to you. Even in these strange times sing a song of praise, not sorrow, for God is with us – Immanuel was here, is here and will be here. Believe the Good News – Jesus the Light is in the world

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