The scripture lesson from Isaiah said, “He will teach us his ways so we can walk in his paths.” Back when Isaiah was a prophet people walked everywhere. The places they walked were, for the most part, just paths. Some places were wider where the caravans traveled but where people walked it was mostly paths. So, it’s easy to understand what Isaiah was talking about when he talks of walking in God’s paths.
Everybody could get a picture of a path because that’s how they got from one place to another. Today the Prophet might use the term “road” or “highway” or “interstate” and we’d immediately get a picture in our minds what he was talking about because that’s how we travel today.
So, when we think about traveling in God’s path or road what’s that mean to you. How can we travel in God’s road and what kind of road would it be or what kind of road is it?
For me it’s easy to picture a path because I walk almost everywhere I go here in Walnut, unless I’m going to McDonald’s for coffee, then I drive. But, mostly I walk. I use the sidewalk when it’s clear but I’ve been known to walk in the street too. It just depends on the circumstances.
So, when Isaiah speaks of walking in God’s path I picture a sidewalk. But that’s only a mental picture. God probably didn’t intend for us to literally walk his path.
More likely he was trying to get us to understand that we needed to get to where we could see or where we could hear God’s message for us. Isaiah said that the people needed to get to the mountain in Jerusalem, to the temple of God where the Message would go out from.
Think about that for a minute. Where can we go to hear God’s message for us? Where can we go where the noise of our everyday lives can’t interfere with God’s message? What path would we take? And would we all necessarily take the same path?
The lessons from God’s word for us today talk a lot about peace, freedom from disputes, and loving each other. What pathway would we walk to achieve peace? How do we get from where we are now to where we need to be to be at peace?
Isaiah and the psalmist said we need to get to the temple on the mountain, the house of the Lord. That’s where they said we should begin. Paul in his letter to the Romans said that now is the time to wake up. The time of Christ’s return is nearer than it’s ever been and we need to be paying attention.
Paul said that we need to put aside those things that are inhibiting us and put on the armor of light and behave decently. He said, “Clothe yourselves with Jesus Christ and forget about fulfilling your physical desires.”
So, the pathway to peace, to reconciliation leads to the temple, the house of the Lord. To get there we have to shed the things of darkness and put on light. Can you picture that?
Darkness is all those actions and things that keep us from being at peace with each other, those things that really don’t make us or anyone else happy. Putting on light is being intentional in our attitudes towards our neighbors, our families, and the strangers we meet. Clothing ourselves in Christ is being like Jesus, imitating his life, being like him.
Right now these are just words. How can we possibly be like Jesus? How can we shed the darkness and put on light? How?
It’s as easy as surrendering, giving everything over to God and it’s that hard too, because it’s not exactly easy to admit that what we’ve been doing isn’t good for us or our friends and families. It’s never easy to let go of what has become so familiar to us and try something different like really trying to love everyone.
Friends, if it was easy we wouldn’t need foreign ambassadors traveling all over the world to work out peace accords and disarmament agreements. If it was easy we wouldn’t need mediators to help settle disputes. But, it’s not easy.
That’s when we turn to God and ask for his help…and his love…and his peace…and his grace. That’s when we surrender and say, “I give up. I can’t do this by myself. I need you. I’m sorry for trying to do it my way.”
And that my friends, is the beginning of walking the pathway of peace, admitting that we can’t do it alone, admitting that we need God’s forgiveness and love and grace.
The pathway to peace is love, love for God and love for one another. But first we have to walk the path to God. My friends, none of us have to walk this path alone. There are many other folks who will be walking with us. They may be strangers but they will soon become friends because they’re walking the same path.
The path we’re on right now is leading us to a manger in Bethlehem. May we be patient as we travel in hope. The journey has only just begun.
Thanks be to God for his eternal, loving grace. Amen.