Monday, December 6, 2010

Are We Ready?

Today we begin the second week of Advent and I wonder if I’m ready. Are you ready? Really, are you ready?

You probably think I’m talking about Christmas and in a way I am but not in the way you’re thinking, presents, Christmas trees, lights, and so forth. That’s not where I’m going. Are you ready for the King of Peace?

Now that you know where I’m coming from some of you are saying, “Sure, I’m ready. Come, Lord Jesus, come.” And there’s the rest of us who say, “Uh, I’m not quite ready yet. There’re some things I need to change first.”

Everywhere I look I see people who are all stressed out. Some are worried about the weather. Others are worried because they can’t come up with that perfect gift for Mom or Dad or their best friend. Some are worried because they’ve been laid off from work and don’t know how they’re going to keep the heat and lights on for another month. Some are stressed because they’re hosting the Christmas dinner this year and they want it to be just right.

Is anybody stressed out because there are so many people trying to make it this winter without shelter? Is anyone worrying about those who are struggling with their addictions to the mind altering substances they can’t seem to live without? Is there anyone who thinks that all the money spent on our military operations is excessive? Is anyone worried about peace? Is anyone worried about the ax John’s talking about? Are we really ready for Jesus, the King of Peace?

Every word we heard read this morning was either about hope or about peace. Friends, I don’t think we’re living in very peaceful times. Our country is still sending young men and women to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq and there’s the threat of nuclear war from the North Koreans. There’s not much peace on the African continent or in Central America and some parts of South America either.

With so much uncertainty where is our hope? I’ve place my hope, my trust in Jesus the Christ, the King of Peace. There are some who wonder how anyone can place their hope in Jesus when he still hasn’t returned as he promised his disciples. My answer is he never said that he’d be right back. In fact he said that he didn’t know the time when he would return. No one does. And so we wait…and hope.

I still put my trust in God. Why, you ask, do you still have hope that Jesus is coming back. I trust that God will keep his promise because if everything in the Bible was all just a story I don’t believe it would have survived for over 2,000 years. I believe because of God’s words to us in the Word, Jesus.

I’m ready because I have placed my hope in what God has planned for all his children. Isaiah said it verse 10 from chapter 11, “the new king from the family of Jesse will stand as a banner for all peoples.” The Prophet said the new King will stand for all peoples. That is good news for us because Isaiah was talking about the foreigners in the land. Even then God was getting things ready for us.

God is ready to receive us; are we ready to receive him? Since you’re here this morning I’m assuming that you’ve already taken the first step. God called you and you responded by coming here to worship and sing praises to Him.

My question for all of us was, “Are we ready?” Maybe we’ll never be completely ready but if we believe in Jesus and his Message of Good News that God’s kingdom is here right now then I think you and I are as ready as we’re ever going to be. When we put our hope and trust in the One who cares for us then we’re ready.

My hope is that I’ll live to see a world that’s totally at peace, a world living in harmony the way Jesus wanted. It begins with you and me. When we live lives filled with God’s love and peace living in harmony with our neighbors even when they’re nothing like us then we’ve taken the first step to bring peace into this world.

John was preparing the way for the Messiah with the Message that change was needed. The Message is no different for us today. If we are to be ready then we need to, “Do the things that show you really have changed your hearts and lives.” And we can’t think that just because we call ourselves Christians we’re safe from the ax John talked about.

Advent always asks us to look again at our lives and reassess our spiritual health. Friends, take time this week reading the Word. Spend some time in quiet contemplation letting God speak his Message of hope and peace to you. Then you may be ready. It’s all up to God and his grace. Thanks be to God for his Message of hope and peace. Amen.

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